“The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones”
An admixture of profound beauty with a cognitive dissonance to entertain, Scott Cooper manages to invoke those elements rarely seen on screen aside from the likes of Terrence Malick or some foreign director no one can sit through without Quaaludes. Yes, it’s interminable, but likely intentionally so because the softening of the protagonist could never be sold to an audience in under two hours. The beautiful collision of the coalescence of contrarieties could only be the product of a prolonged character fatiguing that shows, not so much the melting of hate into friendship, but a tiresome occupation inside misanthropy that gives way to forgiveness and compassion.
Christian Bale’s treatment of Rosamund Pike is perhaps the most redeeming feature; a lesson to men in the treatment of the opposite sex when they need to be accommodated during their moments of emotional and stark disconnect from the world. It is a rare film where Christian elements are met with rare consistency in matters of sexual ethics.
In Rosamund Pike, we find perhaps the second best declaration of the feminine strength in 2017 (first in Wind River) that is so often refused in Hollywood for typecast optimism and fulsome buoyancy. It’s dissapointing how boring and one-dimensional even female writers tend to make the female characters in their stories. Despite what the incredulous Boston Globe writer Ty Burr says regarding “the feelings that grow between the captain and the settler woman,” the deep loss accrued by Bale’s character and the immediate total loss of Pike’s character makes their collision immensely likely and even that is drawn out well into “suspense” until the very last moment. That said, I could have live with a less reckless finale and carrying the image of Schopenhauer, I readily agree with Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune):
for “Hostiles” to fully make sense of its introductory on-screen D.H. Lawrence quotation — “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted” — we’d need a tougher, less comforting ending than the one Cooper provides.
In the end, given our political climate where entrenchment is the stepchild of comfort, it takes courage to embrace the moderate no-mans land, tacking fire from both ends. In Hostiles, we find an imperfect film with much to appreciate: a film with much to learn from no matter the depths of our entrenchment from one another.