North Texas Daily

Review: “Sweetwater” letdown at Dallas International Film Festival

Review: “Sweetwater” letdown at Dallas International Film Festival

April 08
23:45 2013

Preston Barta

Film Critic

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Imagine what could become of a film featuring the talents of Ed Harris, Jason Issacs, Stephen Root and January Jones. It’s enough to give the term “star-studded” a whole new meaning. However, despite the fantastic ensemble and Old West setting, “Sweetwater,” the latest film from Noah and Logan Miller (“Touching Home,” 2008), is a massive letdown that doesn’t live up to its promise of being a commendable western.

The film screened 10 p.m. Sunday at the Dallas International Film Festival.

Set in New Mexico in the late 1800s, “Sweetwater” follows a prostitute-turned-good housewife named Sarah (Jones), embroiled in a blood triangle with an eccentric lawman (Harris) and a crazed religious leader (Isaacs) after her husband (Eduardo Noriega) is found murdered.

While there are a handful of memorable scenes, like one involving Harris’s character humiliating Isaacs’s at a dinner table using a knife, the film fails to maintain any sense of narrative structure. Every great sequence is followed by tons of dry exposition, a sad hindrance to the skilled Harris (“Apollo 13,” 1995) and the charismatic Isaacs (“The Patriot,” 2000), who seem to enjoy themselves in roles that are incredibly fun to watch. Even Jones (“Mad Men”), whose acting chops are so lifeless they could only be compared to cardboard, gives a surprising performance.

The Miller brothers have grand potential for producing upstanding work, but their talents as writers and directors lack consistency in “Sweetwater.” There are so many continuity errors and unformed thoughts that the film seems rushed in its pace, leaving audiences feeling unfilled, especially in the final showdown.

With a festival of more than 175 films, there are bound to be a few flops. This year, unfortunately, one of the short straws went to a centerpiece with acclaimed actors and great potential.

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