The long shadows of directors Sergio Leone and Quentin Tarantino hang over Sweetwater while the quirky little Western hits the mark with a satisfying revenge fantasy.
Identical twins Logan and Noah Miller’s Sweetwater reportedly took years to produce and release before getting a tepid reception at this years Sundance Festival in January. It stars Ed Harris, trading his trademark crew cut for some very long hair extensions, and January Jones, in a variety of dress and undress, going up against a creepy religious maniac with multiple wives.
The creepy religious maniac is played by Jason Isaacs, he of the long black hair and blue eyes, who played a creepy educator Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise.
Jones, of AMC’s Mad Men, does an understated turn as an ex-prostitute (with a heart of gold, naturally) victimized by Isaacs and Isaacs’ friends among the townsfolk gentry. Harris is an eccentric lawmaker imposed on the town by a governor unhappy with the disappearance of some family members.
Harris literally dances into the movie, accompanied by a band, and dispatches the corrupt and ineffectual existing sheriff with a brutal beating lifted right out of A Clockwork Orange.
As with any movie nodding to Mr. Tarantino’s narrative tradition, the body count is large. Jones and Harris are able to dispatch a host of bad guys quickly and with precision, just the thing when you are lusting for a little well-deserved retribution.
The movie was filmed in New Mexico and allegedly features an old-west version of Tucumcari, the tiny New Mexico city perhaps best known as one of the four towns starting with the letter “t” featured in a Little Feat song, “Willin’” (“I’ve been from Tuscon to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah…”).
Which reminds me that Nevada, with its proximity to religious maniacs with multiple wives, would have been a good place to shoot this movie, but maybe next time.
SWEETWATER, Ed Harris, January Jones, Jason Isaacs, directed by Logan Miller, rated R, 95 mins. Opens Friday.