A24 has firmly cemented itself as one of my favorite studios that is releasing movies today, and might even be in the running for one of my all-time favorites. Each of their films that I’ve seen so far has had a sort of AAA Indie feel to me, in that they explore unconventional stories or topics, have interesting gimmicks, and star some of the best actors and actresses in the business. My favorite thing about A24 is probably how diverse their offerings are. Not only are they releasing some of the bigger films that are hard to miss, such as Room, Green Room, or Moonlight, but they also can surprise you with something out of nowhere, such as The Ballad of Lefty Brown. Today, I’ll be reviewing the Blu-ray release of this Western film starring Bill Pullman, Jim Caviezel, and Peter Fonda.
As mentioned, I had never heard of this film until it was sent to us to review. This was a surprise to me because I occasionally spend time on A24’s website just sort of basking in their catalog. So chances are that I’ve seen the title but skipped over it subconsciously, which is ridiculous because each time I put in one of their films I find something that I love about it. The Ballad of Lefty Brown is no exception to this rule.
The Ballad of Lefty Brown is, unsurprisingly, the story of Lefty Brown. Lefty is a simple-minded man who has a history with the newly elected Senator, along with several other famous men of the land. However, time has aged these men, and distance has separated all but Lefty and Edward (the Senator).
With Edward leaving for the capital to fulfill his duties as Senator, the question of who will run his ranch looms in the air, with Lefty being Edward’s choice; just because he isn’t the smartest man, he has been a loyal friend and trustworthy hand for life, so he is the obvious choice. However, shortly before his departure, Edward is killed while he and Lefty give chase to horse robbers, and Lefty is blamed, making him a fugitive from the law.
Edward’s death reunites the old crew, but not before Lefty sets out alone into the wilderness to hunt down the killers and bring them to justice. But will he be able to prove his innocence to a scorned widow?
What I absolutely love about this film is that is tackles some fairly standard Western tropes in new ways. The classic horse robber chase leads to a surprise death and twist, putting the slower protagonist out of his depth, unprotected, and in the position to really stand up and show both his grit and worth. Along the way, he meets and mentors a young gunslinger (which itself is fascinating, seeing him be the experienced and commanding one), and sways his would-be captor into helping him bring justice.
Bill Pullman, who is always great is beyond fantastic in this role. There’s a real fine line when portraying a more simple minded person, and Pullman does it astonishingly well. At no point did I feel that it was forced, which is what I feel usually happens.
Great Western films are few and far between these days, and I’ve been lucky enough to land on a few of them for reviews. I definitely consider this one to be one of my favorites, without any doubts. There are definitely some predictable things about this film, but the surprises it gives you are what will be memorable, guaranteed.
This Blu-ray release looks really quite good. It was shot on film, so there is some grain, but I almost prefer that in my Westerns. The colors are very natural, as is the lighting, which sets the tone quite well, in my opinion. The darks are sometimes a bit washed out and not as dark as I would prefer, but at no point was this a distraction.
The 5.1 channel surround audio track was really fun for this movie. There are several scenes that really make great use of the surround channels such as gunfights and storms. The dialog is always easy to hear and never seems forced or mixed improperly.
- Audio Commentary by Director Jared Moshe and Bill Pullman
- Bringing Truth to Myth: Inside the Characters of The Ballad of Lefty Brown
- Designing the look of The Ballad of Lefty Brown
- Deleted Scenes
The Ballad of Lefty Brown Final Thoughts:
A24 once again leaves me impressed and surprised. Anyone who has any interest in the Western genre should definitely add this to their collection, and everyone else should probably give it a shot, too. It provides a fresh and interesting take on loyalty in the old West and does so with fantastic acting.
It’s out now on Blu-ray, you can grab from Amazon or other retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.