Welcome the f ** k back.
By Jim Vejvoda
Deadwood: The Movie premieres on HBO on May 31 (8:00 p.m. ET / PT).
Approximately 13 years after HBO canceled the award-winning series, Deadwood finally comes to the correct conclusion that its creators, cast and fans have long waited in film form. And while it would not be considered one of the best episodes in the series, this film is, nevertheless, a proper and moving goodbye to Deadwood and its cast of morose and complex characters.
Established a decade after the events of the last episode, Deadwood: The Movie is picked up in 1889 when South Dakota becomes the 40th state of the Union. A senator from the United States has come to the city to commemorate this momentous occasion … George Ambrose Hearst (played with sinister resolution by Gerald McRaney), the same rich and powerful villain who dominated Deadwood in season 3.
The return of Hearst reopens old wounds for the surviving residents of Deadwood, and now has the political power, and the ruthless gunmen, to protect him while pursuing his own personal agenda in the city on the pretext of an official visit. Can residents, who so often disagreed with each other in the past, come together to confront a common enemy and protect their community?
The crime that prompts citizens to act takes a while, approximately 40 minutes after the 110-minute film, but at least it gives time for viewers to catch up with old friends if they are familiar with the program or, if " You're new to Deadwood, to get an idea of time and place (and his dense right hand, theatrical dialogue) before the weapons start blazin. " And that time and place is one in flow. As it is said more than once during the film, the future is approaching and can not be stopped. If the citizens of Deadwood will go without fighting is the question that is coming.
(In what some might see as a blatant nod to HBO that is now owned by telecom giant AT & T, the future of this movie is symbolized by the arrival of the phone.) It's the Information Age in its embryonic stage, but also a revealing metaphor for the evolving entertainment industry is likely, as it becomes increasingly dominated if not absorbed by technology-driven conglomerates.
Hearst is not the only character to return to Deadwood after a long absence. Alma Ellsworth (Molly Parker, underutilized) and Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert, scene stealer) are back for reasons of the heart, even if the former considers it a banking issue. Alma's longing for married Sheriff Seth Bullock (a Timothy Olyphant, more staunch and even more staunch) is not the strongest supporting plot in the film; Ultimately, it plays a key role in the plot: while Jane tries to compensate with Joanie Stubbs (Kim Dickens) she carries more weight since there is actually a place for her characters to go. As the most notable new player in the film, Gem Saloon's newest prostitute, Caroline Woolgarden, Jade Pettyjohn defends herself well, even if her fresh-faced character does not necessarily do much to advance the overall story.
We have the opportunity to revisit many of our favorites from the past: Charlie Utter, Martha Bullock, Dan Dority, Farnum, Wu, Johnny, Jewel, Doc Cochran, Sofia, but the film ultimately revolves around Trixie (the tough one but tender Paula Malcomson) and Sol Starr (John Hawkes), who is stunned by the expectation of having parents at his age, as well as the two main protagonists of the set, the stubborn man of the Bullock law and the somber but not insensitive owner of the lounge, Al Swearengen (the always captivating Ian McShane). It is through these complicated and multifaceted characters that Deadwood: The Movie, and its scriptwriter and series creator, David Milch, explores its most attractive and emotionally effective elements.
Illness, repentance, guilt, the proverbial and true love that escaped, all come into play here, as Bullock and Swearengen bear the weight of the future and count the sins of the past. That resolution is not as grim as it seems; While Deadwood: The Movie is not softer than the series that inspired it, it is certainly more optimistic or at least open to the notion of happiness. If I had to compare it with something familiar or with a formula it would be with the "Christmas episode" of a television program, where happiness is within reach (and there is even a beautiful song and some snowfall near the end).
All this turns into a bittersweet farewell as Deadwood might have expected, even if his final line is the middle finger of any of those sensual feelings, a sharp rebuke that personifies all the profane and belligerent that made the fans fall in love. With this emblematic show so many years ago.
Deadwood: The Movie may not be the series at its best, but it's still a welcome and emotionally effective song for this innovative show about a particularly colorful, sinful and fiercely populated city of evildoers, villains and murderers. We'll miss you, you sons of bitches.