Ever since the “Twilight Saga” ended, Robert Pattinson has been appearing in a lot of entertaining Indies from “The Rover” to “The Lost City of Z.” He proves he’s more than just a vampire, but an Indie actor with ambition and vulnerability.
His next film is “Damsel, a well-made but ineffective Western dramedy, written and directed by the Zellner brothers (Daniel and Nathan), that takes a twist on the whole damsel in distress routine. But he isn’t the star of the show. That would be Mia Wasikowska as the Damsel Not in Distress.
The movie opens with Robert Forster as an old preacher who sits with a man named Parson Henry (David Zellner) while waiting for the stage coach. The old man is heading back East, through with the savages denying his words of the Lord, while Parson heads West after losing his wife in childbirth. Nice intro.
Parson soon meets Samuel (Pattinson), a young man, who is set to marry Penelope (Wasikowska). He is madly in love with her, he has a very rare miniature horse named Butterscotch as a wedding gift, and he wrote her a song.
Then, Samuel finds out that Penelope has been kidnapped by someone named Anton (Gabe Casdorph). So, he and Parson successfully kill him, but it turns out Penelope didn’t want to be rescued. In fact, she never loved him, and Anton was her dream dream guy, so Samuel kills himself in the outhouse. The rest of the film shows her trying to move on, and traveling with Parson, while placing a ring of explosives around his shoulders.
“Damsel” is an attractive western that takes an interesting aspect, and breaks the rules of a generic hero’s love story. But it was hard for me to care about this movie. It didn’t spark my interests the way it should have, because of its dry tone.
The first half basically places plain characters in plain moments, but the second half has a lot of nice moments. Wasikowska gives a strong willed performance, breaking the Damsel cliche, while David Zellner gives a fresh supporting role. He does a fabulous job in front of and behind the camera. and Forster adds a nice cameo in the opening shot, especially when he leaves the scene in his red PJs.
The acting is fine, the humor is provided, and the locations are authentic, but I wasn’t really feeling the ambition here. Again, this is a well-made, but dry drama.