After seeing the movie tonight I want to say so many things and at the same time I am not sure my words will be strong and as meaningful as the movie deserves.
First, let me tell you I am not a specialist in westerns, nor did I watch them a lot so I considered myself ignorant on the subject. I read some stuff before going to the movie because I wanted to grasp the meaning of western.
As Nathan Zellner told me when we talked yesterday, everyone tries to make its own western, tries to reinvent it the way they see it. And let me tell you the vision the Zellner Bros have is just unique.
The movie was described by David as a melancholic comedy and I did not understand what it meant until I saw it. The characters, all of them, are served with stories bringing them to a certain turning point in their lives. They all follow a path to forget or to conquer or just to be loved, to be found by someone. And that’s quite tragic but beautiful at the same time…
The first thing you discover in ‘Damsel’ is the beautiful set, which is the peaceful wilderness of Utah and Oregon. The colors, the nature, the decor… everything pulls you in the western universe even if it is greener than any western I can think of. The cinematographer did a wonderful job and it set the story with perfection.
The costumes are really beautiful with a real work on the clothes as well as accessories and makeup. As the Zellners told us, they were a team working in the same direction to give the same message. Well I can say the mission is accomplished and we just enter the western world only with the images created by this talented team.
The story itself is one I would qualify as unique in the sense it is completely out of this world. It’s like every character follows its own reason, without even considering others’ and whatever the consequences… Every character has a purpose, they all gravitate because their story bring them at the same place at the same time and it entails complications but also awareness, as crazy as could be. The dialogs can be heavy but so funny at times, I think I laughed so much I gave myself a headache! What impressed me was that the Zellners explained to me the way they wanted the movie to be, meaning they said they talked to the whole movie crew to show them where they wanted to lead the movie and bam, what they told me about was just so clear on screen. They use this pathos, which brings hilarious situations and words game, it’s actually a very serious movie but making us laugh because of ridiculous situations.
The characters all have something endearing and crazy but oh so human it is deafening.
The actors are all brilliant, I cannot deny that because they all surprised me by their funny side but also their talent to be serious in a ridiculous situation.
I want to make a special mention to Joe Billigere (I may have written the name incorrectly I am sorry) and Robert Forster who are both so different but so important to the story because they are links to the story of Parson Henry, it all clicks together and these two actors just bring this something more to the movie.
Nathan Zellner is Rufus and let me tell you he is just hilarious in this ‘beast’ kind of way: hair-brained, savage man who does not know how to read and is a bit silly and also (Sorry Nathan) probably a bit of an idiot… Though his character comes at two heavy moments which become terribly funny, I would say the character brings lightness to the situations. Nathan plays the character with such seriousness and force that we are just wondering if the character is real or just that stupid.
Mia Wasikowska, the only lady in the movie but what a lady she is. As we read in interviews and promo stuff, Penelope is not the damsel in distress we all thought she was. She has character, she is strong and independent. She comes as a surprise because she does not seek what all the ladies in movie seek, she prefers being alone and a fighter than to feel lonely and do what could be expected of a woman. Mia brings to her character such a strength it’s impressive. We all remember her in ‘Maps to the stars’ well she is completely different but similar. Her talent and simplicity makes her the hero of the movie.
Butterscotch (Daisy) is just an adorable miniature horse. Really pretty and just the cutest little thing ever. She is just the perfect present even if unwanted. And as the Zellners said, she did not do much except being herself and being pretty. Mission succeeded for her because now I guess I want one too!
David Zellner is the main character. What I mean is Parson Henry appears from start to end and he is the one witnessing and living the weird adventure Samuel asks him to follow. The character is weak, skittish, afraid, sad, a drunk but at the same time we cannot not take pity on him because he is so damn lost… David Zellner impressed me by his interpretation and his way of making the words strong and important. He seemed very serious from start to end, always right.
Last but not least: Robert Pattinson. We always said he needed to act in a comedy. We were right! He is hilarious and just amazing in this movie. The work on the accent is real, I even had some difficulties at first to understand because I was not used to the accent at all! His Samuel is someone we don’t expect at all. We think of him as strong and as a savior but to be honest he is just this mad man who is looking for someone he made up in his own mind. Not spoiling anything but Rob here plays a foolish man, maybe a bit of a dreamer, a real one. Between his singing, his love for Penelope, but also his crazy plans, every scene he is in is just one funny situation after the other. Believe me, you want to hear him sing ‘Honeybun’! Rob played the song live on set and his talent as musician is shown with playfulness, cuteness and humor. Though, for me, the best scene is the one with Mia Wasikowska (we saw a part of that scene in the last video clip). This scene made me laugh but also made me so proud of being Rob’s fan. He is just out of the world, he delivers his lines like a madman, he is just completely crazy and plays the serious one knowing his words and his face and his gestures would make us laugh. I don’t know if he did it consciously but in the scene he transforms into a comedian and i never laughed so much in a movie.
I think, in desperate times, we are all capable of crazy things. That’s what I saw in this movie. But I also saw an incredible work, an incredible team, an incredible movie. I wish I could watch it again because I feel like I missed a lot of things.
I probably forgot lots of things. I may edit this review if they come back to me.
But, thank you Nathan and David for this beauty. You can be proud. And Rob, well, you are amazing as well, proud is a weak word to express how impressed I am.
Go see ‘Damsel’ people!