Directed by a former documentarist, and based on the letters and papers of real-life 'wilderness woman' Elinore Randall Stewart, this looks to be the kind of Western that Ken Loach might make. The Wyoming hills of 1910 may be past the earliest days of the frontier, but Rip Torn's taciturn Scots rancher hasn't changed his attitudes since his forebears disembarked the Mayflower. Ferrell is the housekeeper he first buys, then later weds, and she provides an admirable testimony to the central role that women must have played in building the new-found land. Rooted firmly in TV-style docu-drama, the film charts the appalling rigours of pioneer life (lost herds, lost children) with an oblique respect and an insistence on the gritty (see Torn up to his elbows in a cow's backside). Whether or not you go for it rather depends on whether you like your Westerns mythologised or demythologised: 'circle the wagons' versus the Wyoming hills with a washing-line stretched across them. CPea.
Cast and crew