Venice Film Festival: Go With Me

Go With Me
Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles, Ray Liotta, Alexander Ludwig, Hal Holbrook, Steve Bacic and Lochlyn Munro

by Katharine Fry

Go With Me, directed by Daniel Alfredson (Millennium Trilogy: The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest) plays out in a small logging community in the Pacific Northwest.

Lillian (Julia Stiles) has returned to her hometown following the death of her mother while conveying the sense that she hasn’t been able to make it anywhere else. In a couple of fast and jumpy opening scenes, Lillian is threatened by an unknown man who beheads her cat. Taking its corpse with her, she sets off to see the sheriff who only advises her to leave town. His hands are tied, he is seemingly powerless to do anything to protect her from her assailant, now identified as Richard Blackway (Ray Liotta) a former deputy turned jack-of-all-crimelord. Her only hope is apparently in seeking out help from some of the men at the sawmill who might also have scores to settle.

Lillian enlists the help of Lester (Anthony Hopkins) and Nate (Alexander Ludwig). This unlikely band of three – old man, city girl and big-but-slow – set off to track down Blackway, taking us deeper and deeper into the mountains across his various nefarious business interests until the final reckoning.

Though this is an edgy thriller shot with all the visual stylings of a Scandi noir, I really had to ask my self why this is an important story to tell. Blackway just comes off as wall-to-wall bad, but for no particular reason and, as such, is almost cartoonish. Our heroes’ characters aren’t much more developed than that, just a posse willing to go past the point of no return together.

I went to the press conference in search of enlightenment. Alfredson describes the film as a classical western set nowadays. Indeed Hopkins had them all watch Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider. They were not looking to make a film that was too intellectual or complicated. Well there you have it. With this new frame, all the parts become clear. We have the hero, his sidekick, a damsel in distress, goodies vs baddies in saloon scenes, on the edge of town, across the tracks and in almighty shoot outs. The desert is replaced by the cold grey disorientation of dense forests but there’s still a campfire.

Go With Me functions as a tense thriller with strong acting from its cast in an evocative setting, nothing more, nothing less.


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