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HI-LO COUNTRY

SYNOPSIS:
Set in the prairie country of New Mexico, Hi-Lo Country is the story of two cowboys Pete (Billy Crudup) and Big Boy (Woody Harrelson) who struggle to maintain the traditional cowboy way of life in post WW2 America whilst all round them the economics of ranching are changing. Their friendship is tested when they both fall in love with Mona (Patricia Arquette) the wife of the foreman on a rival ranch. Whilst Pete's attraction is hesitant Big Boy's affair with Mona becomes increasingly more open and confrontational with the rival ranch. The tension between Pete and Big Boy spills over into their daily lives and their families with disastrous consequences.

"Once a much prized Peckinpah project, Hi Lo Country was eventually written by Walon Green, scriptwriter of The Wild Bunch. And the benefits of that choice are all over the screen - the viewer is aware of the astute insights the script and all the performances contain. The New Mexico setting around Amarillo is powerfully presented, and Frears shows clearly how the age of the cowboy is dying and agribusiness is taking over...farms are counted in thousands of acres not hundreds and the independent cowboy is being turned into a part of a company workforce. The Hi-Lo Country explores the psychological and emotional effect of this wider social change on characters who cannot fully comprehend the consequences but know instinctively they are doomed. The adulterous attraction between Big Boy and Mona is keenly felt, with strong performances from both Harrrelson and Arquette, and much like in The Postman Always Rings Twice, the viewer knows the attraction is irresistible and will have a tragic outcome. Thus the major theme of the film which surfaces in all their actions and responses is one of inevitable tragedy which the characters defiantly try to avoid by proud work and hard living."
Hunter Cordaiy

"Maybe I get too personal watching films, but if I dont much like the central characters it becomes an uphill battle. While admiring the talent at work across the board, and enjoying the humming performances of Harrelson and Arquette, I found myself turned off their Big Boy and Mona; theyre not people Id want to go drinking with. This puts a big strain on the film, since there is so much of them on screen, so much of their emotional baggage we see. Then there is a sudden shift at the end of act two, just when the love triangle seems ready to explode, were led off to a muster. . . cowbuy stuff fills the next few scenes, subtle work suggesting things have changed in emotional terms as well as physically. But all this carping aside, its a darned good looking film you cant take your eyes off it, not just because of the scenery but the people in it and the terrific pictures, the big music score and fluid direction. Maybe youll like it better n me, and I certainly enjoyed much of it."
Andrew L. Urban

"Visually impressive, Hi-Lo Country is an absorbing modern day western noir that captures the colour and passion of living on the land. The soundtrack is sweeping, the sunsets startling and the terrain rugged, bringing out the cowboy in the man. But the setting is only a backdrop for what is essentially a story of friendship and walking the tightrope of love. In fact, this story could be set anywhere, despite the impact of the magnificent cattle country and wide horizons. Woody Harrelson's Big Boy is larger than life, representing the last of an old-fashioned breed of hot headed cowboy, whose lusts are laid out for all to see. His character is an explosion waiting to blow. Both Big Boy and Peter (Billy Crudup is solid) are bourbon swilling lads who work hard and play even harder. The scenes in the bar are reminiscent of scenes from some of the classic westerns, with the smoky atmosphere of the poker game that is symbolic of the players' personal differences. Walon Green's sharp script successfully creates a mood and environment, with lines like 'It makes my teeth itch just looking at her'? Patricia Arquette is a provocative Mona, although her femme fatale character remains very one-dimensional. Apart from a glitch in the script when the story line jumps, Hi-Lo Country takes us on a splendid journey into a world where the dust is gritty, the liquor plentiful and honour is everything."
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

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TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

HI-LO COUNTRY, THE (M)
(US)

CAST: Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup, Patricia Arquette, Sam Elliott

PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan, Barbara de Fina, Eric Fellner, Martin Scorcese

DIRECTOR: Stephen Frears

SCRIPT: Walon Green (Max Evans book)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Stapleton

EDITOR: Masahiro Hirakubo

MUSIC: Carter Burwell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Patricia Norris

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: PolyGram

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 22, 1998

VIDEO RELEASE: October 13, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal







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