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The Claim (Widescreen) [Import]

Wes Bentley , Peter Mullan , Michael Winterbottom    R (Restricted)   DVD
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 59.71
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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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN EPIC MASTERPIECE June 23 2001
By A Customer
This is one of those movies that "they don't make anymore." It's not a movie for people who thrive on SFX, or acrobatics, or one-dimensional characters, or stories that are as meaningful as a message in a fortune cookie. This one is about people struggling to survive in a winter wilderness during the railroad boom of the 1860s with all the corruption, decadence, and pioneering spirit of a time, much like our own, in which capitalism and "progress" were the driving forces of society. Wes Bentley, Milla Jovovich, et al, are superb. There isn't a false note in the acting. The landscapes are breathtaking. This is director Michael Winterbottom's finest hour yet, and he's had a few (Jude, Welcome to Sarajevo). If you enjoy a movie with great production design, breathtaking cinematography, an involving human drama (albeit slowly paced), beautiful music, and all the elements of a meticulously produced, high class film, I'd consider getting this one on DVD. The transfer is excellent. It's unfortunate that the disc doesn't offer much in the area of "extras," with the exception of a trailer, but it doesn't really matter because the movie itself is so visually impressive, and so unpretentious at the same time, that there's plenty of eye candy and food for thought to keep any intellectual viewer satisfied. I highly recommend this overlooked gem. Give it a chance and you won't be sorry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The "small" American Story Oct. 2 2001
The Claim
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be swayed by these people... June 23 2001
By A Customer
..."The Claim" is a moving, visually stunning movie about loss and a man seeking redemption he'll never find. I don't believe a movie needs explosions to keep the term "boring" at bay. This movie deals with emotions and its characters. Having said that, you also get to see the stunning, mind-blowing image of a house being MOVED THROUGH THE SNOW-COVERED COUNTRYSIDE. The movie also features deathbed scenes, love affairs, death, gunplay, Milla singing a song (!). Nothing boring about this movie. And here's the best part: the cast, as the Amazon reviewer noted, is simply amazing. Wes Bentley and Sarah Polley give the best performances of their short careers (these two will be the young actors that stick around, win a bunch of Oscars, and have careers like De Niro and Streep). Anyone not looking for homogenized Hollywood... -- car crashes and buildings blowing up and tough-guy hokum -- check out this flick. You won't be disappointed.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Claim is quite lame Oct. 31 2003
I really tried to enjoy this film, but what a bore! Ebert & Roeper must have been held at gunpoint to rate this as "Two Thumbs Up." Not even Milla and Nastassja could save this movie. Don't even waste your time watching this flick and awaiting the "shocking connection to Dillon . . . one that could devastate his town, his life and his empire." Anyone could see it coming a mile away, and even so, who cares? Certainly not the townspeople. Not for a moment did this script or the characters hold my interest. Everyone was underdeveloped. Milla looked tired and sweaty, and she annoyed the heck out of me with her awful singing. Nastassja was on her death bed throughout the movie, and so I couldn't even appreciate her beauty and talent, and her daughter, Sarah Polley, couldn't stop saying "thank you."
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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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Too dark and snowy
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 more
Published on Aug. 10 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Good multifaceted story with terrific cast...
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 more
Published on April 7 2004 by Kim Anehall
2.0 out of 5 stars Epic (n): 2+ hr. movie with no attention to characterization
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 more
Published on Jan. 19 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars powerful and passionate
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 more
Published on Oct. 16 2003 by Michael Bolts
3.0 out of 5 stars Michael Winterbottom hates me.
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 more
Published on Jan. 27 2003 by Adam Cole
2.0 out of 5 stars Michael Winterbottom hates me.
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 more
Published on Jan. 25 2003 by Adam Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films I've ever seen
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 more
Published on Dec 7 2002 by PianoMom
5.0 out of 5 stars a pleasant surprise
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 more
Published on Oct. 16 2002 by John D. Olsen
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of rice forsaken....
Sticky finds it hard to review this film in between bouts of crying, rage, and choking on mouthfuls of sticky rice. Read more
Published on May 12 2002 by "eatstickyrice"
3.0 out of 5 stars Drama so thick you need a chainsaw
Two things attracted me to this movie: all the positive criticism it recieved, and the lack of a top-notch, well known actor. Read more
Published on April 2 2002 by J.D.
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