This will be the first of several reviews from this year’s Tribeca film Festival. To follow our coverage, click here.
Synopsis: Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter from 1890s Brooklyn, travels to Dakota to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over the rights to their land. (IMDB)
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Michael Greyeyes, and Sam Rockwell
Writer: Steven Knight
Director: Susanna White
Rating: R (United States)
Running Time: 101mins
This film features a pair of underdog stories featuring two marginalized characters who came together. The main story was of a woman named Catherine Wheldon (Chastain), a painter in the late 1800s who took on a challenging journey to Dakota to do a portrait of Sitting Bull (Greyeyes). People often looked past each of them with Wheldon being a woman and Sitting Bull being Native American. It was through their shared experience that they formed a strong bond as Wheldon became an advocate for Native Americans.
The film was at its best when it focused on the relationship between Wheldon and Sitting Bull although the story could have gone further with both of them. The best part of the film was its excellent cinematography, full of beautiful shots of the New Mexico countryside masquerading as Dakota that helped give the film a great sense of scale. The score was great as well at creating a fun western atmosphere.
Chastain was solid once again as she delivered another strong performance as the strong-willed Wheldon. She was definitely out of her element early on but she was fun to watch despite not knowing much about her pre-Dakota. Greyeyes was good as Sitting Bull and had decent chemistry with Chastain.
Overall, this was a good drama that overcame its familiar story beats thanks to its beautiful cinematography and strong performances.