The Ballad of Lefty Brown
After his long-time partner is murdered by a group of bandits, the bumbling and easily lovable Lefty Brown (Bill Pullman) rides off to hunt the culprits with a small posse at his side to seek justice and clear his name of a murder he did not commit. Jared Moshe’s The Ballad of Lefty Brown begins at a galloping pace; however, it’s unfortunately unable to keep this up beyond the second act, at which point the film trots to a halt.
Where this modern Western shines the brightest is in the performances of its stellar cast. Pullman gives Lefty so much heart that it’s impossible not to instantly fall for his simplistic charms. Diego Josef, too, who takes on the role of plucky young gunslinger Jeramiah, brings a large amount of energy to the movie, which helps during those drearier sequences. Moreover, special mention must be given to Tommy Flanagan for his stand-out performance as the marshal with a troubled past; his powerful onscreen presence never fails to leave its mark. Given the acting talent that’s on show, it’s disappointing, then, that there wasn’t more made out of Joe Anderson’s villainous Frank, who only seems to be there to serve the plot.
“Ballad” is also a fitting name for this film; both its cinematography and score are stupendously beautiful, with wild vistas accompanied by swelling strings juxtaposed with unflinching violence, Lefty Brown captures the beauty of the idealistic American frontier lifestyle and places it within the country’s brutal past. With the violence often occurring during the most scenic moments, the notion that one is never truly safe in the wilderness is present throughout.
The biggest issue with this picture is its flat third act. When the main plot is essentially wrapped up by the end of the second act, the movie introduces an unneeded political aspect that drags on too long. Though the purpose of this decision is made clear within the overall thematic content, we’re still left with an anticlimactic third act that even Flanagan cannot save.
Nevertheless, The Ballad of Lefty Brown is a highly entertaining Western that’s worth going along with for the ride, even if the stagnant finale is unable to live up to the rest.
The Ballad of Lefty Brown does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
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Watch the trailer for The Ballad of Lefty Brown here: