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OPEN RANGE

A couple of reformed gunslingers who’ve become cattle-herders face a showdown with a slimy, rapacious rancher.

CAST: Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, Michael Gambon, James Russo, Michael Jeter, Diego Luna, Abraham Benrubi, Dean McDermott, Lorette Clow

DIRECTOR: Kevin Costner

"Mr. Costner, who directed and co-produced in addition to starring, has studied the great old westerns closely, and his reverence pays off in the grandeur of the images (shot by James Muro) and the stately, deliberate pacing that leads up to the climactic gunfight…But Mr. Costner's relentless, root-canal humorlessness turns what might have been an enjoyable B-picture throwback into a ponderous drag… Every pause, every gesture, every grimace is fraught with significance, so that even his cowboy reticence comes to seem like shameless showboating. Ms. Bening's performance, unfortunately, is well matched to Mr. Costner's; if the two of them were any more upstanding they'd be trees…‘Open Range’ wants its notions of good and evil to have a primal, mythic force, but instead it feels both puffed up and simplistic." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Kevin Costner's ‘Open Range,’ an imperfect but deeply involving and beautifully made Western, works primarily because it expresses the personal values of a cowboy named Boss (Robert Duvall) and his employee of 10 years, Charley (Costner)…As for Duvall, here is an actor. He embodies Boss' values rather than having to explain them. His pauses are as fascinating as his actions…He is the center of the story, the man for whom values are important, and whose response to this violent situation is based on what he believes is right, not what he believes will work…His character elevates ‘Open Range’ from a good cowboy story into the archetypal region where the best Westerns exist." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Costner is quite a way from ‘Unforgiven’…‘ Open Range’ copies the rain and flood of the Clint Eastwood classic but can't match it for dark-night-of-the-soul brilliance -- not with dogs getting shot, Duvall speechifyin' about freedom in this country and Costner talking mush about kisses. These guys are killers, but Costner wants us to see them as gentle and caring knights at heart. Forget ‘Unforgiven’ -- Costner's kind of insufferable nobility is unforgivable." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"Old-pro Western directors like Budd Boetticher could stage entire tales of vengeance and redemption, with ambushes, shoot-outs and reversals of character, in less time than a revisionist like Kevin Costner takes to tie his bedrolls…Costner is now underrated as an actor. When he works with Ron Shelton on films like Bull Durham and Tin Cup, he's a quick-witted, casual romantic. As a director, though, he's interminably self-important…in a movie where weepy emotions struggle to break out everywhere, Costner's preposterous, underwritten courtship of Bening comes off as inadvertent comic relief. Without Duvall, this movie would be as wet as Waterworld." --Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun

"In ‘Open Range,’ a flawed but highly entertaining B Western blown up to John Ford scale, Costner plays his toughest hero -- a Civil War veteran who became a hired gun and is now running cattle through the northern plains with his partner of 10 years, Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall). Costner's Charlie Waite lets Boss do most of the talking, but when they and their two young cowhands are threatened, Charlie's guns speak loud and fast…The climactic shootout may be the most elaborate -- certainly, the longest -- in the Western canon. Some of it is thrillingly staged, but it's a case where less would have been more…Bening gives it her all, but when she tells Charlie that she's been waiting so long for love to ride into her life that she was afraid it would never get there, you expect to hear even the horses laughing. It's left to the old pro Duvall to keep things grounded and he is, once again, superb." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"Kevin Costner's ‘Open Range’ talks too much talk, but it walks enough walk. And it's got great hats. So it's a pleasure to report, minor caveats aside, that it's a fine, old-fashioned 21/4 hours at the Bijou…It's poised between corny and mythic and between vanity project and work of art. How close it comes to parody, and how much it yearns to memorialize the great Costner mug -- but for the most part, the artist in this guy overpowers the egoist…It's a revisionist western whose main revision is to de-revise the western back to its original form…Costner insists, perhaps over-dogmatically, on spelling out motives and emotions. He's not one for new-movie shorthand techniques. He may be the best director of 1957…--Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"Just when we were all ready to give up on Kevin Costner as an egomaniacal lost cause, he delivers ‘Open Range,’ a solidly crafted and entertaining old-school western that he directs and stars in with a disarmingly self-effacing manner…Actually, he defers top billing to the veteran Robert Duvall, who gives his best performance in years… Costner's new movie isn't destined to become a classic because it avoids the moral ambiguities of films like Clint Eastwood's ‘Unforgiven’ and the romance verges on the corny. But Costner does, to his credit, avoid the New Age-y fluff that has made his recent movies like ‘Dragonfly’ torture to sit through." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"‘Open Range,’ a wondrously odd time warp of a western, stars Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall as Charley and Boss, respectively…You can tell Charley's got a troubled past by the way Costner squints into the dawn and dusk…‘Open Range’ has been steered by Costner in a loping, throwback style that suggests Howard Hawks suddenly turned to mush…The screenplay of ‘Open Range,’ credited to one Craig Storper, is an awesome compendium of cowboy-movie cliches. It borders on parody, and often crosses the border, rustling up a drove of oater aphorisms." --Stephen Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

"‘Open Range' is actually pretty good. It's a little long and more than a little corny, but then, it's a traditional Western, a genre whose movies (especially in retrospect) can sometimes be a little long and more than a little corny. (Have you watched a John Ford movie lately?)…a nice surprise in a summer full of big-budget washouts." --Glenn Whipp, LA Daily News

"It's good to find Costner back in Wild West country, since that's where he made his directorial debut with the estimable ‘Dances With Wolves’ in 1990…Costner films the open-range sequences with a generous eye for panoramic backdrops, recalling the epic masterpieces of John Ford. Town scenes are heavier on clichés, especially when romance blooms between Costner's character and the sister of a physician. In all, the film is a striking, if flawed, achievement by a talented actor who may become an important director if he sticks to the genre that suits him best." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"Outside of Clint Eastwood, no modern film star has remained more stubbornly committed to making Westerns — or had more luck at getting them made — than Kevin Costner…His three films as director — the naive ‘Dances With Wolves,’ the disastrous ‘The Postman,’ and now, Open Range, easily the best of the three — are all stories of righteous heroes upholding just principles in volatile frontier societies. Added to which his performances for Lawrence Kasdan, in ‘Silverado’ and in the unfairly maligned ‘Wyatt Earp,’ make it clear that the Western has been very good to Kevin Costner, and he to it…here is a Western without irony or innovation, without any of the overt efforts toward ‘revisionism’ we’ve come to expect even from Eastwood — a movie that waxes elegiac about the end of the West, but remains sure that cowboys and cattle and ramshackle frontier towns will live on in perpetuity at the cinema." --Scott Foundas, LA Weekly

"Costner's maddening compulsion to make an icon out of himself in action epics is mitigated here somewhat since he shares top billing with the indefatigable Robert Duvall… Costner's pretty good with the panoramas and natural light, but somewhat flatfooted and awkward with the interiors…Bening, given some thankless things to say and do, nonetheless manages by the end to carry the frontier woman archetype with dignity and warmth. Duvall, of course, is the film's biggest asset, bringing conviction to his similarly archetypal role of grizzled master gunfighter." --Gene Seymour, Newsday