"Coyote Waits" is an excellent suspenser drawn from Native American-themed mystery specialist Tony Hillerman's novel. Pic juggles a scroll of well-drawn characters, an intricate whodunnit-cum-conspiracy plot, and Navajo identity/mysticism. Stateside, telepic is slated for exposure on PBS. Offshore, it should prove a solid lure for broadcast.

“Coyote Waits” is an excellent suspenser drawn from Native American-themed mystery specialist Tony Hillerman’s novel (whose work was adapted, less happily, for Errol Morris’ little-seen 1994 “The Dark Wind”). Juggling a scroll of well-drawn characters, an intricate whodunnit-cum-conspiracy plot, and meditations on Navajo identity/mysticism, pic offers full-course narrative satisfaction that almost seems wasted on the small screen. Stateside, telepic vet Jan Egleston’s feature is slated for exposure on PBS’ “Mystery!” showcase. Offshore, it should prove a solid lure for broadcast and possible limited-theatrical sales.

Shrugging off a transmission-impaired radio message, Tribal Police Officer Jim Chee (Adam Beach) arrives late to discover a fellow officer and friend shot dead in his vehicle. Local shaman Ashie Pinto (Jimmy Herman) is found wandering dazed nearby, pistol and near-empty whiskey bottle in his hands. Seemingly open-and-shut case proves anything but, as Chee, his superior Lt. Joe Leaphorn (Wes Studi) and others discover. Before long, investigation has turned up links to everything from the CIA and Vietnam War to Wild West outlaw Butch Cassidy’s “true” final-resting-place. Fine perfs, handsome location lensing and B.C. Smith’s lyrical score more than compensate for occasional implausibility and stilted dialogue.

Coyote Waits

Production

A Wildwood Enterprises, Carlton Intl. and Granada Television production. Produced by Craig McNeil. Executive producers, Robert Redford, Rebecca Easton. Directed by Jan Egleston. Screenplay, Lucky Gold, adapted from the novel by Tony Hillerman.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Roy H. Wagner; editor, Kathryn Himoff; music, B.C. Smith; production designer, Richard Toyon. Reviewed at American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, Nov. 6, 2003. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Adam Beach, Wes Studi, Sheila Tousey, Alex Rice, Gary Farmer, Jimmy Herman, Graham Greene, Jack Burning, Jenni Blong, Bodhi Elfman, Keith Carradine, Paul Guilfoyle, Long Nguyen, Joseph Tran, Candice Castello.
Want Entertainment News First? Sign up for Variety Alerts and Newsletters!
Post A Comment 0