SXSW: The Ballad of Lefty Brown

the-ballad-of-lefty-brown-F71455The Ballad of Lefty Brown starts from an interesting place. Writer/director Jared Moshe was curious about the bumbling sidekick in John Wayne movies, the guy who functioned as comic relief. That archetypal character could not do anything right, so why did someone like John Wayne choose to have a bumbling guy like that as the one watching his back?

Lefty Brown is one such bumbler. Played by Bill Pullman, we join Lefty late in life, near the end of a lifetime of sidekicking for a Montana rancher who has just been elected to the U.S. Senate.  Lefty would be at a loss anyway due to his mainkick, but things are made much, much worse when the rancher is ambushed and murdered by a cattle rustler that he and Lefty were tracking.

Pullman is very believable as Lefty, a sad-sack who believes he contributed to, or at least could have done something to prevent, the death of his idol and only friend. Other characters, including many familiar faces, come and go but serve mainly to advance the story. Unfortunately, we don’t get to know them as much as I would have liked, but this is Lefty’s story for once so it would be cruel to complain that he got too much screen time!

The landscape is beautifully shot, and the cinematography really emphasizes Lefty’s isolation. He’s literally in the middle of nowhere for most of this movie, and even when he’s accompanied by others that feeling of isolation remains.

Because of the rancher’s death, Lefty has to assume the leadership role, and as we spend time with Lefty we get to learn why the rancher was willing to place so much trust in Lefty. It’s an enjoyable journey even though, paradoxically, the movie plays out like a typical western because the rancher’s death makes Lefty the lead with a sidekick of his own. But I like to think that the rancher knew all along what our stand-in hero Lefty was truly made of.

If, like me, you’re intrigued by the concept and are in Austin TX this week then you have one more chance to see The Ballad of Lefty Brown at SXSW, on March 15 at 2 p.m.

 

 

 

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19 thoughts on “SXSW: The Ballad of Lefty Brown

  1. reocochran

    Are you enjoying the SXSW? This is a very interesting plotline and so glad you reminded us of the old John Wayne movies which to me, almost seem like Don Quixote de la Mancha, who had Sancho Panza. He was a chubby bumbling comrade who was devoted and helpful to D. Q. 🙂
    I like Bill Pullman who actually reminded me a few times of Bill Paxton.
    I miss Bill Paxton and wish he had made it through his heart surgery. Take it easy, Sean.

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    1. Sean Post author

      I enjoyed SXSW a lot. It was a great festival experience – I think it’s the most Q&As we’ve been treated to at a festival, to the point we started taking for granted that the director and at least one star would be at every screening (and I think it played out that way).

      I also used to confuse the two Bills and it is extremely sad we lost Bill Paxton. Bill Pullman is still around and it looks like he plans on working for a while yet.

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    1. Sean Post author

      I hadn’t seen him in a while either, aside from Independence Day: Resurgence (which I wish he had skipped and maybe he does too). He mentioned in the Q&A he had a ranch about 20 minutes from where they filmed this movie so maybe he’s been spending time there?

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