Hot Docs 2015 Review: Western
There’s verité and then there’s verité.
Turner and Bill Ross’s Western will appeal to fans that want their documentaries to be as naturalistic as possible. The way that the Rosses capture a Texas border town and its inhabitants is a mediation on letting the story drive itself, rather than an attempt to try to direct the action. Even the opening credit sequence takes its time.
The two standouts of the film are the city of Eagle Pass, Texas, as it feels almost otherworldly, as well as rancher Martin Wall’s daughter Brylyn, who walks away with the entire movie.
The film often reveals itself at a slow pace, and more importantly, the Rosses are incredibly even-handed and do not lead the viewer to certain states of consciousness, letting them either draw their own conclusions, or force themselves to look away, (to say that Western is immersive is an understatement). For ninety minutes, we live in this world, feeling what they feel, seeing what they see, smelling what they smell…if we choose to do so.
There’s a sense of foreboding, but the Ross brothers do no more than foster that sense.