Our Rating: 2 out of 5
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
Westerns are not my strong point but now and again I run across an interesting one.
Everything was fine until Cody (Madeleine Stowe) shot the colonel who was attempting to force Anita (Mary Stuart Masterson) into kissing him at the saloon in town. That kind of thing is simply not tolerated, you see, and before the fine, God-fearing folks of the small community could lynch up their least favorite local harlot, her friends had come to the rescue. On the run with the law and private investigators after them, the former prostitutes sit down to try and figure out what to do in the long term. Anita has a claim in Oregon that belonged to her and her recently deceased husband. Cody has about fourteen thousand dollars in a bank several towns over. Lilly (Drew Barrymore) has a bit of an attitude problem, and Eileen (Andie MacDowell) just... well, likes pretty clothes and charming strangers into buying her lunch. Unfortunately, they pick the same day to withdraw their money from the bank as an old associate of Cody's does to rob the place.
It is not a friendly meeting and the repercussions will threaten all their lives and leave them scrambling for solutions that will not involve their immediate deaths. The result is a film that was reworked and rewritten numerous times during filming and comes across as rather heartless and lacking a purpose as a result. It's a shame because the initial premise is an entertaining one and it has a good cast -- however, here most of them are quite stiff and not altogether believable, perhaps due to tensions on set. It's the prettiest I have ever seen Drew Barrymore and the movie does have some good moments (distracting the deputy in the local jail and trying to break out is one of them). There's also some comedic humor but it becomes lost in the midst of some very serious situations so one isn't quite sure what this movie wanted to be -- a comedy? a drama? It follows the general format of a traditional western in the sense that a lot of bad things happen, but also has a few sweet aspects (Eileen's interest in a local rancher is one of them).
Basically, something went very wrong with this film and I'm not sure what it was, but it leaves one feeling a tad annoyed that it simply wasn't better. The DVD is not the same movie shown in theaters and so there is some dispute over content -- the version I saw contained a moderate amount of violence, none of it very explicit, general profanities, and some sexual implications and nudity. Some claim there are f-words, but I did not catch any. Several times, God's name is paired with a profanity. The term "whore" is used many times. Violence includes gun fights in which many people are shot and/or killed (blood sometimes sprays). A man uses a whip to prevent a woman from leaving him -- we later find her covered in bloody welts (it's implied this has been happening a long time). It is not specified but we can presume he raped her as well -- another of the girls is captured by the same band of men and also raped, but while hers experience is also not explicit, it is much more heavily implied. She is forced to remove her clothes in front of them and put on a dress they like, then we later find her tied to a bed, and a man makes suggestive remarks to her.
The women skinny dip in a pond -- one's breasts are fully shown from the side, and again on a later occasion revealed; we see another woman's bare back, and a man's naked buttocks as he leaves a room. The opening scene is a woman cavorting with a man in a brothel (nothing more than him chasing her around the room, and trying to grab her). In an attempt to get a friend out of jail, one of the girls wears a very low cut dress and hikes it up to show off her curvaceous leg, up to her hips. The content is not as bad as it could have been, but the movie was also not as good as it could have been! It had promise and never quite lived up, but I will say that I did like the heroines -- particularly Lily, the sassy tomboy. It's just a shame more thought was not put into the final result.