Echoes of War
Directed by: Kane Senes
I never thought I would say this, but today I watched to very good Western films. The first being “Slow West, and the second being writer/director Kane Senes’ minimalistic, post-civil war drama “Echoes of War. In “Echoes”, we meet Wade (James Badge Dale) as he returns from the war. With no place to stay he goes to the home of his deceased sister’s family. His brother-in-law, Seamus (Embry) is reluctant to offer him a place to call home, but when his daughter Abigail (Monroe) and son Samuel (Teague) seem thrilled at the prospect of having there Uncle around he agrees.
Soon after, Wade discovers that the neighboring cattle farmer Randolph McCluskey (Forsythe) is having his sons steal from his family by looting Seamus’ traps and taking whatever food is there. Wade is not content to sit around and let this happen, even at the request of Seamus, who says it is better just to let them do it and not cause trouble. Angry words turn into threats, threats turn into violence, and things start to get ugly between the two families. When Wade finds out that Abby is in love with McCluskey’s son Marcus (Wakefield), and the two have been meeting in secret, things reach a boiling point.
Outside of the outstanding performances, my favorite thing about “Echoes” is that it is a patient film. I feel that the best Western films usually take time to develop their characters and the conflict that is present. Kane Senes shows that he is very capable of doing that and also building tension without going over the top or making his characters seem less relatable. All of the people in the movie are so different as well. You have Wade who is traumatized from the war and hell bent on protecting his family, and William Forsythe’s McCluskey who has no qualms with taking from others and threatening violence if challenged. On the other side Seamus, Abby, and Marcus all just want peace. As is sadly true ,all too often in real life, violence drowns out peace and yields terrible consequences.
The movies only weak points are that it will be too slow for some viewers (but like I said, most of the good Western films are) and it is not a “Beautiful” film in the traditional sense of the word. Senes opted instead to focus on the impoverished lifestyle many people lived during and after the Civil War. He used the baren setting very well, and created a bleak living situation for his characters to inhabit. All in all a very good film with some standout performances.