Like "Wendy and Lucy" this movie is also directed by Kelly Reichardt and is filled with strong characters, subtle drama and a methodical pace. "Meeks Cutoff" is set along the
Oregon Trail in 1845 and is not based on the old computer game in case your wondering. Michelle Williams is part of an ensemble cast that also includes Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, and Zoe Kazan. All very talented actors who should also be recognized more often.
This film is not plot driven per se but follows this group of settlers as they try to survive the wilderness, the Natives, and each other. There are three women, all of whom wear the clothes of the period, full-length dresses and bonnets each of a different color. They are really identified by their dress color. Each has their own unique voice and personality as their physical features are usually covered. They are all married and are dutiful wives. Michelle Williams plays Emily Tetherow the strongest willed of the women. She can handle a musket and isn't afraid to use it. The other women are also strong but in a more subdued way. The men lead this convoy on their never-ending search for fresh water. It's never really clear where they're going, but they are always moving forward.
While out scouting for water Meek and another man capture a native and interrogate him. Demanding that he lead them to water. Unable to bridge the communication gap they take him as a prisoner. Always under the threat of an ambush, the group is extremely suspicious of him. When they contemplate killing him Emily steps in and saves his native ass. This film is about the human spirit and the will to survive under tough circumstances. It's also a complex drama about people having to work together to achieve a bigger goal, all while being set in early American life The ending is rather abrupt and offers no easy answers. This movie didn't get a wide theatrical release and played mostly at a film festivals and art house theatres, but now with the power of Netflix you can watch it instantly or buy the DVD released by Oscilloscope.