There are several memorably gorgeous shots In the new documentary Western: A gold-spun sunbeam enveloping a herd of dust-covered cattle; a lightning storm erupting in a pitch-black Texas sky. But the real power of the film, which is in competition at this week’s Sundance Film Festival, comes from moments like the one in the clip above, in which a young girl watches her cattleman father at work, and ponders her future — one that’s being threatened by forces beyond her control.
Directed by acclaimed sibling-filmmaker duo Turner Ross and Bill Ross IV — whose award-winning docs include 2012’s Tchoupitoulas — the mesmeric Western follows the lives of two men: Martin Wall, the aforementioned cattleman and father of 6-year-old Brylyn, and Chad Foster, the prideful mayor of Eagle Pass, a small Texas town situated near Mexico. For years, Eagle Pass has maintained a close relationship with the nearby Mexican city of Piedras Negras, but as drug-related violence from across the border draws closer, the cities (and their residents) begin to slowly close off from one another, and Wall and Foster find their respective livelihoods threatened.
The Ross brothers spent more than a year filming in Eagle Pass, and it shows: Western is an impressive, immersive film, one that quietly explores how ripples become waves, and how even the toughest moments in life can still inspire grace and grandeur.