The Claim (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge has been transplanted to the edge of the American frontier in this vivid drama that didn't receive the theatrical exposure it deserved. Although top young actors adorn the movie's ads, the central character--Daniel Dillon, a man who runs the gold rush town of Kingdom Come--is played by little-known Peter Mullen. In the dead of winter in 1849, three people arrive in town, changing irrevocably Dillon's life. One is Donald Dalglish (Wes Bentley), the clear-thinking leader of a railroad prospect crew who will determine where the railroad line--and a new line of wealth--will be built. The others are a mother and daughter (Nastassja Kinski, Sarah Polley) who have a past connection to Dillon and the knowledge of how he became rich. As events unfold--in pure Hardy fashion--Dillon finds himself facing a crossroads, with one path leading to redemption. The cast is uniformly brilliant, but special praise must go to Mullen, who carries the film's dramatic weight, and to Bentley, who is so composed in a role completely dissimilar to his breakthrough work in American Beauty. Director Michael Winterbottom (who adapted another Hardy piece with his film Jude) and cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler have fashioned their film after Robert Altman's landmark McCabe and Mrs. Miller in the natural, earthy feel of a frontier town. The film opened in 2000 and deservedly appeared on a few top 10 lists, then was rereleased the following year. --Doug Thomas
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Director Michael Winterbottom
Producer Andrew Eaton
Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce
Music Michael Nyman
Photography Alwyn H Kuchler
Starring Peter Mullen, Natassja Kinski, Milla Jovovitch, Wes Bentley, Sarah Polly, Sean McGinley
The big American story is that in 1776 courageous American settlers fought for freedom and democracy against British monarchical tyranny. This story is reinforced again and again on the big screen. The story of The West is one that is used most often to illuminate the fight for these essentially admirable ideals. The small American story however, the one often hidden from historical view, is the one that injects a little reality into this interpretation of the American way of freedom and democracy by revealing what really inspired the revolution and made America the country it is. In cinematic terms, The Claim is one of those small stories that expresses much about the American economic mentality.
"Everything has a price" says the film publicity. That tagline defines not only the action of this story but a whole social context, where the driving force behind the society, the main preoccupation of its citizens, is self-interest, and society itself morally bankrupt.
Of course, the story could be set anywhere, its inspiration is credited to Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge set in the small, rural backwaters of 19th century England. However, excessive materialism in this setting is not to be equated with the general nature of society. The story of a man selling his wife and daughter to finance his own ambitions is such an outrage because it is related to a society with some moral credibility.Read more ›
Though the film had beautiful photography I couldn't help but wonder, what was the purpose of some shots being out of focus? It was a distraction more than anything else, because it most certainly did not lend to the mood. I'm keeping this only because of Natassja, and even so, I won't be viewing this again for a long time.
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I did not enjoy this movie. It is very dark. There is little colour. Just people wearing black against a backdrop of snow and more snow. Read morePublished on Aug. 10 2004
Dalglish (Wes Bentley) arrives to Kingdome Come in the High Sierra's in order to survey the direction of the railroad he is bringing to the area. Read morePublished on April 7 2004 by Swederunner
Thankfully, it's only 2 hours (as opposed to typical epic movie durations). When will Hollywood and movie critics realize that a movie isn't very satisfying if it has only one... Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2004
a great cast makes this work. Michael Winterbottom directs another powerful and passionate film alongside his earlier film Jude with Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccelston. Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2003 by Michael Bolts
That's the conclusion I came to while watching The Claim. I have not yet read The Mayor of Casterbridge, but Winterbottom's frigid Sierra adaptation left me cold, and not in the... Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2003 by Adam Cole
That's the conclusion I came to while watching The Claim. I have not yet read The Mayor of Casterbridge, but Winterbottom's frigid Sierra adaptation left me cold, and not in the... Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2003 by Adam Cole
If, as another reviewer said, you're looking for big blasts, action and a superficial script that has nothing to reveal then get yourself something else. Read morePublished on Dec 7 2002 by PianoMom
I just stumbled across this movie on cable and was pleasantly surprised. It does owe it's look to the classic "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", but I find no fault with that. Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2002 by John D. Olsen
Sticky finds it hard to review this film in between bouts of crying, rage, and choking on mouthfuls of sticky rice. Read morePublished on May 12 2002