Note: I realized belatedly that this was its own thing, & pulled it out of What Did Jaci Think? Early February
I spent most of the over-long runtime of Hostiles thinking about why this story was being told in the first place, and even more so, why it was being told from this perspective. I think about this a lot, but this year I’m going to start talking about it more, so beware.
After a cold open of a brutal attack on a white pioneer family which leaves only the mother alive (the always-terrific Rosamund Pike), we’re introduced to Christian Bale’s Captain Blocker. He’s being charged with the task of escorting Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family home to Montana after seven years in prison for the crime of … I have no idea, actually, so I assume it’s for being Native American. Blocker doesn’t want the job, but he takes it, and he hates it, and he doesn’t open up exactly but he does sort of begin to understand that maybe he might be a little wrong but only a very little and…
I hate it. I don’t want another damned story about a racist white dude who gets to redeem himself and get the girl and (if timed correctly, which this wasn’t, thank god) the Oscar nomination. I would have much preferred even to have watched this exact story, but from the perspective of Chief Yellow Hawk. I’m over *~complex~* racist white guys. I want the Native actor to get the complex role for a change. I mean, just think about that story for a minute: you’re the chief, you and your family are stolen and taken far away from your home, then you’re locked up, unable to save them, for seven years? And then this too-old-for-this-shit jerk takes you home (only because you’re dying, btw) and treats you like you’re nothing and likely worse than nothing.
Surviving that with your humanity intact is much more interesting than inflicting it.
Also Hostiles wasted a terrific Native cast: Studi, of course, but also including Q’orianka Kilcher, Tanaya Beatty, and Adam Beach. Wouldn’t you rather see a movie starring them? I definitely would.
The one thing I am grateful for, other than the cinematography and Rosamund Pike’s wrenching, hollowed-out grief, is the fact that though there is the inevitable sexual assault scene, we don’t see it. We see the threat and we see the women after, but we never see it happen.
Even here, though, Blocker continues to demonstrate his lack of regard for the Native women in his care. He is worried that Pike’s character might be unable to ride a horse the next day. He does not express any such concern for the Native women who were also assaulted.
It’s 2018. I don’t want to see the racist white guy movie anymore. I’m over it.