Dead Man’s Burden hits theaters May 3, but some critics got an early look. Here’s what they had to say.
Dead Man’s Burden is a Western set in a post-Civil War New Mexico where a young family with already pressing problems struggles with a mining company wanting to buy their land. Directed by Jared Moshe, Dead Man’s Burden stars Barlow Jacobs (The Master), Clare Bowen (Nashville), and David Call (Gossip Girl).
Westerns these days are so rare that they usually star some big name actor who they know will sell seats. Brad Pitt as Jesse James, a Coen Brothers remake of True Grit, and the now-classic Tombstone come to mind. Dead Man’s Burden is one that goes back to the old days when Westerns has lesser known actors and budgets Michael Bay would stare at in disabling disbelief. In the old days, Westerns were typically shot in a small location, like a small town in Texas or a family ranch, which is what this film seems to do, and it pulls it off well.
When the film opens, Martha (Clare Bowen) shoots an old man down and she doesn’t want her brother to know about it. Her brother, Wade McCurry (Barlow Jacobs), isn’t exactly a picture of virtue himself, a deserter of the Union army. He comes home to his sister and her husband, Heck (David Call), who are trying to hide what happened as he investigates. When details start to surface, the family dynamic begins to change drastically.
The cinematography of Dead Man’s Burden falls to the cliché of the intrusive lens flares, but you don’t mind because it adds to the Western charm. It gives the feel of harsh sun-baked terrain and hard attitudes that result from it.
Dead Man’s Burden isn’t free of its faults, however, as lines are delivered in canted, semi-poetic fashion. If you can see past the faults, you might find this Western to be a relaxing vacation from the big budget plethora that seems to be the mainstay.
What do you think of Dead Man’s Burden?