Review: ‘Three Priests’

A low-budget stab at high Western melodrama a la "Giant" and "East of Eden," with primal conflicts between generations and siblings in a contempo setting.

Laudably going against the current Amerindie grain, Jim Cole’s “Three Priests” is a low-budget stab at high Western melodrama a la “Giant” and “East of Eden,” with primal conflicts between generations and siblings in a contempo setting. Ambition outstrips execution, however, as the so-so script and pretentious packaging fall short of the mythic tenor intended. Still watchable, with decent perfs by veteran thesps and newcomers, feature might hazard regional release but will fare best on cable.

Jake Sands (Michael Parks) is a Montana rancher working alongside loving wife Rachel (Olivia Hussey) and their younger son Joe (Aaron Duffey). Latter is the brooding, sensitive opposite to older bro Dusty (Alexander Martin), a handsome, womanizing rodeo bronco-buster whose lifestyle meets with stern disapproval from dad. Dusty’s visit home coincides with the return after 10 years of Abby (Julia Jones), the Sands boys’ childhood friend, who unwittingly sparks romantic rivalry between the brothers. Fatal consequences ensue as a symbolic wildfire approaches. Narrative juice is drained somewhat by too much talk and heavy-handed use of tight closeups, oppressive, near-sepia color processing and an overbearing score.

Three Priests

Production

A Gum Spirits production. Produced by Eileen Dylan-Oberholtzer, Jay Towle, Aaron Duffey, Jim Cole. Executive producers, Peter Jacobs, Gloria Pinza. Directed, written, edited by Jim Cole, from a story by Jay Towle.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Guy Peires; music, Dan Cole; production designer, Doreen O'Donnell. Reviewed at Cinequest Film Festival (competing), San Jose, March 1, 2008. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Michael Parks, Olivia Hussey, Wes Studi, Alexander Martin, Julia Jones, James Parks, Aaron Duffey.
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