- Directed by Logan Miller
- January 24, 2013
Three lives collide in the New Mexico Territory in the 1800s.
Sweetwater is a film that I stumbled across at Best Buy but never touched until I saw it at my local Dollar Tree. Sixteen bucks for movie I never heard of? Nope. A dollar? You got me! And at the end of the day it was a good choice at either cost.
Jason Isaacs is great as the villainous preacher Prophet Josiah but Josiah often seems evil for the sake of being evil. There are hints of issues from his past that placed him in his current state, but we don’t know specifically what those are. In other words, bad things need to happen to make the story move so he is the one that does them. Isaacs can actually sell this and get you to put aside any issues.
Ed Harris is great as Sheriff Cornelius Jackson who replaces the ineffective and corrupt Kingfisher (Luce Rains). Unfortunately Jackson is not the main character. He’s more like a narrator of events if anything. Jackson is gay but that never plays into the story. This bit is revealed in a one off-line which seemed like it was setting something up. I’m even not sure why it was brought into the film if it didn’t factor into the narrative.
Our third important character is Sarah Ramírez (January Jones), a former prostitute attempting to build a more respectable life for herself with her husband Miguel (Eduardo Noriega). Unfortunately they face issues with a shady bank owner (Stephen Root) who is willingly blind to the tactics Prophet Josiah is using to expand his holdings and take their land.
There is a lot of racism in this movie directed at Mexicans. From the first sheriff to Prophet Josiah there is nothing subtle about it. But you are not beaten over the head with it either. It just is a part of existence and something exploited by Josiah.
Sweetwater isn’t bad. But it but it takes a while to pick up. Once it does get going though it’s a very good film. Things do drag a little bit until Miguel gets killed and Sarah starts offing people one after another. Then it becomes rather violent and interesting. Sarah starts unleashing vengeance upon the town. She is just a destructive force of nature. That’s also where Jackson becomes a little more important.
Sure Jackson early on implied why Josiah had come to this dry little town and accurately surmised what most likely happened to the governor’s brother in law but with each on screen killing he basically comes in and provides a little bit of exposition and fleshes things out a little bit. I personally think this should have been more of a mystery as it would have pushed Jackson more towards the center of things.
I give Sweetwater kudos for its good production values. It does not look done on the cheap. Westerns don’t get the financial love that they once enjoyed so when they do come along, they can look more like a TV movie that had a theatrical release. Fortunately this looks like it actually is a theatrical release.
The characters benefit from a lot of set up. Because of the length of time it takes for things to get going you get a good idea of how most of the characters are and their stances and everything. And the payoff to all that setup and dragging is well worth. This is a rare instance where extended setup actually works in favor of the film.
Sweetwater is a good film. It’s major issues that it takes just a little bit too long to get going but once it does that is enough of an apology. Sweetwater has a good script and interesting characters and you just may be tempted to give it a second look. I’m going to recommend this!