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New Release Review (DVD) - GO WITH ME

A victim of harassment teams up with the only two men in town willing to take on her aggressor.




Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Daniel Alfredson

Starring: Alexander Ludwig, Julia Stiles, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta, Hal Holbrook



Go With Me is a movie that skillfully uses what could be dismissed as clichés and tropes in its narrative to allow for a subtle exploration of its characters' motivations, never bragging about its sly commentary on and deconstruction of its genre. It plays like a companion piece to Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin, but it's ultimately the more rewarding of the two.



Plenty of movies are renamed to suit different foreign territories, but retitling Blackway as Go With Me (returning to the title of the Castle Freeman Jr novel it's adapted from) for its UK release is one of the more puzzling examples. The US title is far more internet friendly; type it into twitter and you'll immediately be presented with relevant tweets, while searching for mentions of the film under its UK title is almost impossible thanks to it consisting of three such vague words. It's almost as if the movie is purposely being buried, which is a shame, as it's one of the year's best genre movies. Sadly, it's now in danger of becoming one of 2016's most overlooked films.


Blackway refers to the film's antagonist, played by a never more menacing Ray Liotta. Boy is he a nasty piece of work. In the opening scene he beheads a cat belonging to waitress Lillian (Julia Stiles), whom he's been harassing since her recent return to her childhood home, following the death of her mother. Lillian takes her case to the local Sheriff, who practically admits he's terrified of Blackway, a former deputy himself, and refuses to go near him, advising Lillian to leave town if she knows what's good for her. When Lillian scoffs at such a cowardly suggestion, the sheriff tells her to go to the local lumber mill and see if any of the men employed there might be willing to help her out.

It's there she finds aid in the form of retired logger Lester (Anthony Hopkins), who shocks his aging friends (including the great Hal Holbrook) by agreeing to seek out Blackway, coercing Nate (TV's VikingsAlexander Ludwig), a hulking young man with learning disabilities, into coming along to provide necessary muscle.

What we have here is a classic B-western set-up transferred to the contemporary Pacific NorthWest. It's the sort of tale a director like Budd Boetticher might have given us back in the heyday of the Western, an intimate character drama wrapped in a genre blanket.


Hopkins has become something of a joke in recent years thanks to a series of hammy performances in forgettable films, but Swedish director Daniel Alfredson prises a vintage, subtle performance from the Welsh thesp, even if he can't shake the valleys from his accent.

Hopkins' Lester is a classic western anti-hero, helping out Lillian for reasons that we learn are far from altruistic, inspired partly by revenge, partly by a death wish. Ludwig's Nate is this movie's youthful spin on the gullible old codgers usually played by Walter Brennan. I always thought John Wayne and his like were pretty irresponsible for placing a geriatric in such danger, and Go With Me addresses this full on, with Lester purposely mocking the childlike Nate in order to ellicit the simmering rage he usually keeps under taps.


Lester is far from a hero, but he's the right man for the job, a modern day Rooster Cogburn aiding Lillian's Mattie Ross. As he admits himself, he's "the second worst man in town," and exudes a quiet menace, scaring off lumberjacks twice his size with the mysterious roll he claims houses '"curtain rails". As a bad man helping a young woman to take down an even badder man, the parallels with Hannibal Lector are clear.

Go With Me is a rarity in modern genre cinema, a movie that skillfully uses what could be dismissed as clichés and tropes in its narrative to allow for a subtle exploration of its characters' motivations, never bragging about its sly commentary on and deconstruction of its genre. It plays like a companion piece to Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin, but it's ultimately the more rewarding of the two. Alfredson's film really deserves a cinema release, but the DVD is certainly worth making a visit to Amazon.

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