The Movie: 8/10
Let’s get this out-of-the-way first, this is based LOOSELY on real people and real things that happened in their lives, but it is a HOLLYWOOD rendition of those people and events. It’s more of a romantic and dramatized version, which is fine for a movie, just don’t expect to learn real Native American and American History. OK, that’s out of the way….I loved it.
The leading woman character takes it upon herself to make her life more relevant. She takes up painting and wants to paint Chief Sitting Bull as an important figure through early American history. She come across a lot of resistance. She’s accused of coming to cause trouble as an activist. She is abused by townspeople who have only hatred for the Native American tribes in their area and the long terrible history between the white settlers and them through the years. The character has a single drive to just be free to do what she wants to do, which is do this painting. In the process she gets to know him, gets to know the plight of the remaining tribes and the people among them.
It does feel pretty one-sided. Anyone on the side of the US Military are portrayed with a hint of hatred and disdain for the Native People. There isn’t any balance in the narrative for the most part. It’s leaned strongly in the direction of the point of view that the spread and development of American was done on the violent destruction of all the people who were here before. It does address the violence from both sides and doesn’t really fluff up the Native Americans too much, which is good, but you get the feeling that the a-holes who are pushing them out of their native lands are the bad guys.
The movie is beautiful. Every shot and every scene is lovely to look at. The sprawling landscapes and lighting makes it a visual feast, hearkening back to a time when we can imagine vast expanses of land without anyone there to muck it up.
The cast is amazing, everyone from start to finish, so it’s a really immersive telling of the story. I cared about everyone, or at least understood their point of view because of the performances.
Overall Woman Walks Ahead is a mini-epic story about good intentions and a kind of bravery that is solitary to the one person who needs to be brave. In her life she needed to break free from the shackles of a life designed to cage her in, so she broke free. I like that:)
- Deleted Scenes (6 Minutes)
- A Making Of Story (10 Minutes) – Interview with Director Susanna White discussing the film and themes.
- Director Commentary
- Blu-ray & UV Digital Copy
Audio & Video: 7/10
Woman Walks Ahead is presented in 1080P 2.39:1 aspect ratio courtesy of Lionsgate. This is a very nice sharp-looking film that uses a lot of wide sweeping vista shots. Some of the movie is lit naturally and contains noise, I also spotted a bit of banding on this release. Aside from the shortcomings though this is a pleasing presentation that won’t disappoint.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track used here is 5.1 but very reserved. This is not a typical western in fact there are no shootouts at all. Dialog which the film is mostly composed of is clean and directional. George Fenton’s score is kept to the background and passed by me mostly unnoticed.
Overall Score 8/10