SWEETWATER // A Western at heart, “Sweetwater” loses its footing on more than one occasion, arguing whether to be a serious, full-on wild west revival or an eccentric stomping ground for its colorful cast of characters. Most of the characters in the film are cartoonish in nature, especially the villain, Prophet Josiah (Jason Isaacs) who preaches to his congregation one second, kills innocent men the next, and sleeps with his many wives and even the lead at one point, playing out like the villain in a graphic novel, which is what “Sweetwater” should have been. The lead, Mad Men’s January Jones tussles with his dialogue, often reacting as though a spotlight was suddenly shone on her without being prepared. However, she looks fantastic and wears the highlight purple dress with brilliance. But her gun wielding, smart talking character never quite fits her that well. The only performer that really wears his role the best is Ed Harris, whose crazy Sheriff Jackson is just crazy enough to work, but at the cost of not fitting the film, remaining an outsider that is such a good actor, he hardly has to try. Westerns can be difficult eggs to crack, but at least on surface appeal, “Sweetwater” captures the dusty essence of the genre, also bringing to light characters not often seen in serious Westerns. Had the cast been more befitting and had January Jones not dropped the ball, this could have been an excellent take on the genre. Instead, its the equivalent of a pretty blonde in a purple dress.

[Directed by Logan Miller] [R] [95 min] [11 October 2013]    05twohalf-stars

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