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Woman Walks Ahead

Woman Walks Ahead (2017)

September. 10,2017
| Drama History Western

Based on a true story, this riveting western follows a headstrong New York widow as she journeys west to meet Sioux chief Sitting Bull, facing off with an army officer intent on war with Native Americans.


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Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, Dances With Wolves, Hostiles, and this film are all about the same subject--the removal of Indians from the Western territories/states. Each one of these films tells the story from a different, yet true, perspective. Woman Walks Ahead shows clearly how ultra-conservatives can, and do, demonize anybody who doesn't agree with them. Ultra-liberals do the same thing, of course, and back in the NYC of this time period, where the female character played by Jessica Chastain hails from, there were plenty who didn't have a grasp of the situation out West. Chastain plays her part well--except for the fact that she can't keep a British accent though her character is supposed to be from England originally. Setting that aside, ready yourself for brutality comparable to Hostiles--and for a history lesson you won't forget.


Knowing nothing of the story upon which this film centres, I have since viewing same been led to learn more about the treatment of Sitting Bull and his people leading up to the human tragedy of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Obviously this beautifully shot movie with its understated wonderful music score and very strong performances of lead characters, has left a deep impression. Justifiably, some reviews here have found fault with the story's historical inaccuracy such as the age of the two major characters. It seems that dramatic licence is always a component of movies based on real events. But this should not detract from all too real emotions engendered, not only between the artist and her subject but by the embittered townsfolk who see Sitting Bull and his people as true savages. A film of beauty to be recommended.


If you are looking for typical western, full of fighting and action, that you will be disappointed. For some this movie is too slow, for me it was perfect. Beautiful, amazing, honest. Managed to show piece of history, and also of two people who, despite being of so different backgrounds, managed to find more than just business contract. Beautiful scenery, real history, and pain.


The main problem with "Woman Walks Ahead" is simple: it just isn't that great of a flick. Even at just over an hour and a half, it seems to move at a glacial pace, and none of the performances are noteworthy whatsoever. A problem nearly as big: perhaps I have this opinion because it was beaten to the exact same punch by the extraordinary "Hostiles".For a basic plot summary, "Woman Walks Ahead" tells the story of Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a widower who decides to leave her New York home for the Dakota prairie. The reason? She is a painter, and she wants to capture the personage of Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes), once the fearsome Native American warrior now turned potato farmer. Along the way, Catherine is caught up in a political battle over a treaty ratification, and spars with U.S. soldier Silas Groves (Sam Rockwell).Earlier this year (2018), "Hostiles" really set the standard for how to make a modern-age Western. Gone are the "cowboys vs. indians" westerns of the 60s, and rightfully so (that style had become tawdry and played out). Now, the admittedly few westerns that hit the big screen are about more oblique, socially-sensitive issues revolving around Native/White relationships. The "problem" here, of course, is that "Hostiles" set the bar so high that similarly-themed movies are going to have trouble clearing it.Thus, "Woman Walks Ahead" pales in comparison to that gripping, visceral film. Here, nothing important really seems to happen in terms of character interactions, performances, visuals, or anything else. The themes are there and all the right words are said, but nothing jumps off the screen in order to pull the viewer in. It all just kind of "happens" without much emotion or fanfare.I can't say I was ever outright bored by this film, but it came close at times. One thing is for sure: It never sucked me into the atmosphere it wanted to create like "Hostiles" did. I hate to compare two films so closely in this fashion, but it was a legitimate issue for me from beginning to end while watching "Woman Walks Ahead".