3/4/08

"The Outsider" (2002)

The Outsider
Tim Daly (Johnny), Naomi Watts (Rebecca), Keith Carradine (Noah), David Carradine (Doc Henry)

Directed by Randa Haines (Children of a Lesser God)

Plot: A western love story revolving around the forbidden love between a young widow from a Quaker-like religious group and a cold-blooded gunslinger whom she takes into her home after he is wounded. Based on the all-time awesome novel by Penelope Williamson.

I loved the book. You'll notice it hangs out in the sidebar among my top picks EVAH. It's that good. Is a movie going to compare? Course not. But Tim Daly's hot, so let's start...

...With the love scene. In a strange way--if you ignore the style and the tone and the overall premise of both movies--it reminds me of the love scene between Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney in Out of Sight. It's got that combo of playful, sexy, interspersed shots, like before and during and after all mixed together. They were genuinely enjoying each other. No angst, just loving the moment. Daly and Watts had a really deep, mature chemistry. These were wounded characters coming together in a really lovely way. What I didn't care for was why Rebecca decided to invite him inside at just that moment. It seemed abrupt.

Tim DalyTim Daly was breathtaking, although with the facial hair and the born-in-1956 thing, he's skirting a little close to My Dad territory. But it can't be helped, my Daly love. "Eyes" was one of the most crucially unappreciated TV shows of the ten years. I miss Harlan Judd like I miss Malcolm Reynolds.

This was a more brooding role than he normally does, so his wise-cracking self was generally missing. He watched her ALL THE TIME. Fantastic. Like he was trying to figure out if he could bridge the moral divide between them. Naomi Watts played Rebecca with a playfulness about her. I wasn't expecting that because her character in the book is more dour. She's plain, but she's also carrying these big burdens and sadness.

My problem with the flick wouldn't have been a problem if not for the book. There were something like eight plotlines in The Outsider. I didn't need all of them here, but the doctor, especially as played by the marvellous David Carradine, should've had more time. It would've made the part about removing her bullet more profound because he had to overcome his alcohol shakes to save her. But that was the unconventional part about The Outsider: The hero shoots the heroine (by accident) and a drunk doctor saves the day! I liked that oddness. Maybe it was just too much for a film.

OH, and my FAVE line in the book, when they're going to the confessional, wasn't in the movie!

"Will you bring me there, to the preaching this morning, and will you promise not to leave until after it's over?"

(Essentially: Will you be strong for me while I publically reject our love?)

He made a raw, gasping sound, as if the breath had backed up in his lungs, hot and thick. "Jesus, Rachel. What do you think I'm made of?"

Johnny had reached his limit. He's a tough, tough bastard, but he loves her. He'll do this for her even though it'll kill the last of his goodness and hope. Heartbreaking. So when that line (or something to that effect) wasn't in the confessional scene, I was disappointed. I was waiting for it!

I liked the production decision to set the Plain People outside of reality. Williamson's book doesn't specify whether they're Amish, Mennonite or Quaker, and it's historically set in frontier Montana. So there weren't any real Plain People. They're based on plenty of examples, but the end result is a fictional amalgam. The producers added to that foreign, out-of-time quality by adding Norwegian folks hymns and songs when, in reality, none of those plain sects came from Norway.

Ah, but it was a lovely film. Nothing beats the first scene where Johnny stands behind Rebecca in the doorway and, together, they confront the badguys for the first time. Hawt. Intimidating. Possessive. More of that, please.

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