While I was prepping my Top Five Films of 2017 list this year, I took a look back at the 2016 list to see which of those films had the most staying power. I’m definitely guilty of getting swept up in awards season hype, lauding a film then forgetting all about it a month later (cough *Argo* cough). Of any pick from that 2016 list, the one with the best legs is definitely Hell or High Water (DVD/Download). I have watched this movie with a salty Navy vet, several times with my husband, once with my cat-loving mother-in-law, and yet again with my dad (semi-professional “shoot em up” connoisseur). Five stars from everyone, and I’m still not sick of it. I think this one is here to stay.
Hell or High Water is one of those rare films that spans multiple genres, but does it so well that it doesn’t get pigeonholed into any one of them. It could be considered a Western, or a heist film, or even an art-house drama. The story of two brothers robbing small West Texas banks to save the family farm sounds very simplistic, but Taylor Sheridan’s clever script turns this into a complex masterpiece with not a single loose thread left hanging. Chris Pine (sporting the best mustache since Clark Gable swept Vivienne Leigh off her feet) is a revelation as the quiet, thoughtful brother trying to atone for past sins and pull his family out of poverty, and Ben Foster turns in some of his best work as the reckless ex-con who you know right away is too wild to walk away from this unscathed. Jeff Bridges elevates the stereotypical “I’m too old for this shit” Texas Ranger character into an homage to Western cinema heroes- his hotel blanket draped around his shoulders like a serape cape fit for a superhero.
I could get fancy with a Texas-inspired cocktail, but that’s not what this film is about. It’s about average folks and the lengths they’ll go to protect what’s theirs. It’s a movie about sipping a beer on a ramshackle porch, wondering if there’s even such a thing as right and wrong anymore. While watching Hell or High Water, I recommend getting a Shiner Family Reunion 6-pack, maybe a shot of whiskey, and kicking back with a damn good movie.
I tend to love films about sympathetic criminals because I think there’s a little part of all of us that can relate to good people doing bad things. Like Tom Ripley, I want the Howard brothers to get away with it. Or at the very least, go out in a blaze of glory. The great thing about Hell or High Water is that we get both, but it still leaves you guessing until the very end. Cheers!