movie film review | chris tookey

Godless (TV)

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  Godless (TV) Review
Tookey's Rating
9 /10
Average Rating
8.36 /10
Jack O'Connell , Michelle Dockery , Scoot McNairy
Full Cast >

Directed by: Scott Frank
Written by: Scott Frank

Released: 2017
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 0

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I have a rule for slow burners: If you eschew action for characters, those characters better be pretty damn good. Sometimes the acting rises above, but for the most part, Godless relies more on the white hat/black hat archetype than in fully letting us into the troubled minds of Frank and Roy. The few teases we get are oh-so-good, but they’re just that: teases. And more frustratingly, the show abandons a perfectly intriguing premise (women running the business end of a small town) to focus on this tired plot of a cat-and-mouse chase spawned from hurt egos.
(Susan Kemp, Consequence of Sound)
Someone ought to rough up Dockery’s hands, and tell her that when she ladles stew from a pot, it shouldn’t look like she’s serving consomme from a silver salver. And Daniels might want to forego some of his dramatic close-ups — bowed head hidden under his hat brim, lifting it just as the camera zooms in. Don’t get me wrong, I love ham. I just hope the slices get a bit smaller, so that continued watching isn’t bad for me.
(Johanna Schneller, Toronto Star)
Godless foregrounds by-the-book gunslingers and manhunts that take a promising concept and translate it into familiar, if handsomely presented, cliche...The poster for Godless advertises a very different end product than the one Frank and Soderbergh ultimately deliver. “Welcome to No Man’s Land,” the logline reads, next to an image of three women facing down a gang of faceless outlaws. Roy Goode is nowhere to be seen; Frank Griffin is only there to bring into relief the defiance and novelty of the group he threatens. Given current events, there’s plenty of resonance to women trying to envision and protect an enclave outside a masculine power structure. I’d love to see the show that poster tries to sell, but Godless isn’t it.
(Alison Herman, The Ringer)
Watching La Belle’s widows take control of their own lives as they navigate the sexist bullshit of their era — which is both routine and terrifying — is the most interesting aspect of Godless by a mile. A decimated community of women struggling to prevent their home from becoming a ghost town is a genuinely fascinating story that could have thrived, if only it were given more attention. The same is true of “Blackton,” an all-black community outside of La Belle that’s introduced halfway through the season, makes an intriguing impression, and is quickly destroyed by Griffin and his goons. With both La Belle and Blackton, Frank had the opportunity to tell some fascinating stories; instead, he invested way too much energy in the petty, predictable squabbles of the men surrounding them. Whoever edited Godless’s trailer clearly realized that the unique dynamic in La Belle —and not the one we’ve seen a million times between men like Griffin and Goode — was the one worth teasing to hook an audience. It’s a real shame the show itself didn’t.
(Caroline Framke, Vox)
The expected final showdown satisfies as a form of visual comfort food, but as Roy rides into the sunset, leaving a largely destroyed town behind, one’s left to wonder if Godless truly needs nearly eight hours, and so much collateral damage, to tell what’s essentially a formulaic western story — especially when the show’s sole resolution belongs to Roy, who bests his nemesis and begins anew while the fate of La Belle’s women (and its mine) remain in question. Godless equates female empowerment with armament and never investigates the myriad sources that victimize the town’s women, remaining more invested in the petty male quarrel that catches them in the crossfire.
(Michael Haigis, Slant Magazine)
The baby steps Godless takes in unpacking its maleness from a premise of matriarchy makes it obvious just how far the genre has to go.
(Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine)
Godless is so swept up in the romance of the West that it shortchanges practically everything else - character, context, story.
(Sonia Saraiya, Variety)

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