cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

Click for full sized poster

The Claim

Starring Peter Mullan, Nastassja Kinski, Wes Bentley, Milla Jovovich and Sarah Polley
Screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce; based on the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
Directed by Michael Winterbottom

IN SHORT: One of the Best of the Year. [Rated R for sexuality, and some language and violence. 120 minutes]

There are certain images that come to mind when you speak of film genres. "Period Piece" brings to mind lost times with women in long dresses (and, depending on how far back you go, men in almost the same). "Western" always brings up visions of gunfights on dusty streets. Forget about all of that when you sit down for The Claim, in which the big showdown comes without a shot being fired in a town blanketed by winter snows. This is not a cowboy story. It is a story of everything else that went on in the West in the middle to late nineteenth Century. It is a story of railroads and gold and land and power and how worthless all of that is if it costs you what most people hold dear.

The Claim reunites a family after a twenty year separation. We won't tell you how and why of the separation other than to say it would be an emotional whopper under any circumstance. Under director Michael Winterbottom's hands, the "reunion," such as it is, is underplayed. That is greatly appreciated since it balances heavy duty emotional stuff that lies waiting in the wings.

There is gold in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, in California. The adventurers and the immigrants and the poor climbed into the mountains of California, looking for the big score. The Claim is not a story of men with pans in a river. It is a story of veins of ore buried under tons of mountain; of weather so fierce that only a fiercer lust for riches could keep you from freezing to death. Daniel Dillon ( Peter Mullan) came to the mountains in the Winter of '48 with a wife and kid in tow, driven by that lust. Where he mined, there was no gold. Deep into the winter, deeper in the snow of the Sierra Nevadas the family came upon a ragged tent on the side of the mountain. Inside the tent was the devil -- not a literal demon with horns -- but a man with a valid Claim, willing to make a deal. One world is lost to Dillon forever. Another opens wide.

Twenty years later, the consequences of that day come back to wreak vengeance.

In 1867, the country is booming. Two companies are building the Trans-Continental railroad, which will bring expansion and great wealth to the towns along its route. For those in the wrong place, the railroad will bring destruction and misery far worse than the winter blizzards that sealed off these towns from what passed for nineteenth century civilization. Everybody knows this. When a surveying engineer named Daglish ( Wes Bentley) comes to call, he is both feted and feared. Bribes are offered and threats are veiled. The results of his survey will determine if the railroad will come to the town of Kingdom Come. If not, the name is apt.

Kingdom Come is Daniel Dillon's private kingdom. No guns are allowed in the town because that's the way he wants it. His rule is iron. His preferred method of punishment is the whip and, if you cheat or steal from a compatriot miner, the penalty is worse than death. It is banishment which, considering the expectations of the time, truly is the proverbial "fate worse than..." Every evening, when the prospectors take their "entertainment" it's in his bar or in the brothel run by Lucia ( Milla Jovovich), who shares his bed. Arriving with Daglish are two ladies from Boston, Elena Byrne ( Nastassja Kinski) and her daughter Hope (Sarah Polley). The town assumes they are working girls but they hole up in the hotel, where Hope cares for her ailing mom. When Dillon takes notice of Hope, Lucia doesn't like it. When Daglish takes notice of Lucia, well . . .

That's all you need to know, and not even close to what unravels in the lives of these people. True, you'll get the big slam bang ending you want in a Western, but it's not the traditional showdown. Winterbottom's film is a great drama and it's stacked with great, subtle performances. Peter Mullan, who we remember from My Name Is Joe, gets to play one of those great characters who is ice on the outside and torrential fire on the inside. Jovovich gets to play for revenge and everyone else properly supports the pair as The Claim builds to its final explosive resolution.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Claim, he would have paid...


Honestly? We liked The Claim when we first saw it. We liked it more as we slogged through every other disappointing Oscar wannabee. Other critics that we're friendly with think we're out of our mind, but we think The Claim is one of the best movies we've seen this year.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Michael Winterbottom
Click to buy films starring Wes Bentley
Click to buy films starring Milla Jovovich
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.