“Dead Man’s Burden” – Everyone has a past
Written and directed by: Jared Moshe
Starring: Clare Bowen, Barlow Jacobs, and David Call
In “Dead Man’s Burden”, Barlow Jacobs (“The Master”) plays Wade McCurry, a young man who finds his way home after the civil war only to discover that almost all of his family has died while he’s been gone. The only survivor is his sister Martha (Clare Bowen, “Nashville”) who has just buried their father, and is planning on selling the family farm to move with her husband Heck (David Call) to San Fransisco.
Everyone, including Martha, believed Wade to be dead as the father Joe had told them he had been thrown by his horse and died on his way to the war. Here he is though, with a letter from Joe in hand begging him to return home to protect the family. He is immediately suspicious of his father’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. A man representing an oil company interested in buying the family’s land showed up just before the father’s untimely death, and Wade means to find out why. Soon though it is revealed that not only does Wade have secrets he is hiding about his time in the war. Martha and Heck have secrets of their own.
The film largely focuses on each character’s motives for doing what they’ve done. The plot unfolds at a perfect pace, letting you get to know each character, and how their past has brought them to where they are. Emotional, raw, and gritty the scenery surrounding the tale is beautiful and shot in a way that makes the atmosphere just as much a part of the film as the key characters.
The whole cast knocks it out of the park and I really loved the focus on family, and what loyalty meant in that time. People took their responsibilities and duties very seriously, even to the point of dying for them. It was also interesting to see the depiction of just how much the hatred between the North and the South festered even years after the war had ended. To think that was only 150 years ago.
I enjoyed the directing and writing by Moshe, in his first effort. I can really see him becoming an indie film force to be reckoned with. Part of me hopes he frequently revisits the Western genre, as I am picky with the genre and I thought he did an amazing job with it. I also would like to see Clare Bowen in more films. Although this genre also is a good fit for her, I could see her being good in pretty much any historical fiction type of film. She plays an excellent strong female lead.
All in all, I liked everything about “Dead Man’s Burden”. Moshe has created a beautiful, slow burn Western that hits the mark. Thumbs up to everyone involved in making the film. I highly recommend it.