Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

11 March 2018


The parts of the whole of Hostiles are better than their sum. Mostly this is the director's and screenwriter's faults; everyone else is doing very good work here.

This has an excellent cast, with some truly superb performances, and the whole thing looks breathtakingly beautiful. But Hostiles is a little too in love with itself, so it outstays its welcome. Nearly every scene is slightly too long, and then the film itself has three endings. Hostiles' three endings are an indication of a Spielberg-esque tendency to attempt to wring emotion out of us by the end, as though a fine story isn't quite good enough. Rosamund Pike, too, who I normally like a lot, flounders in Hostiles. I blame the script. The screenplay just isn't tight enough, and seems to need to do everything it does twice.

But damn does this thing look gorgeous. Its score and cinematography and production design are just beautiful. No one saw this in time for the Academy Award nominations – it was released way too late, the distributor had no awards-season experience, and Hostiles isn't nearly enough of a crowd pleaser in the first place – but this movie definitely should've been nominated in some of those technical categories.

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