Review: ‘Black Field’

A Bronte-esque tale of two sisters and the mysterious male who romances them both.

Telling a Bronte-esque tale of two sisters and the mysterious male who romances them both, Manitoban indie “Black Field” is a so-so neo-Western distinguished by reasonably convincing 19th-century period detail and, particularly, by striking widescreen digital videography, often in low light. Acting is spotty in this three-hander and suspense nonexistent, although writer-director Danishka Esterhazy gets the feel of rugged prairie life just right, with the barren landscape nearly emerging as a much-needed fourth character. In keeping with the treacherous travel conditions of the 1800s, “Black Field” will have a tough time crossing borders.

Tending to their remote farm, unflappable Maggie McGregor (Sara Canning) and her flirtatious 14-year-old sister, Rose (Ferron Guerreiro), are visited by David Latouche (Mathieu Bourguet), a French-Canadian hunk who offers physical labor in trade for bed and board. Soon enough, the elder sister is looking at herself in the mirror and accidentally seeing David nude. But the man has particular designs on young Rose, to whom he becomes engaged. Unfortunately, he’s also wanted for murder. Esterhazy doesn’t do nearly enough to cultivate the possibility of the stranger’s innocence, and the film’s final turn strains credibility.

Black Field

Canada

Production

A Two Lagoons Entertainment production, with participation of Telefilm Canada, Manitoba Film & Music. (International sales: Two Lagoons, Winnipeg.) Produced by Kent Ulrich, Jeff Skinner, Danishka Esterhazy. Co-producers, David Antoniuk, Ashley Hirt. Directed, written by Danishka Esterhazy.

Crew

Camera (color, DV, widescreen), Paul Suderman; editor, Joni Church; music, Joe Silva; production designer, Ricardo Alms; costume designer, Wanda Farian. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Canadian Images), Oct. 14, 2009. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Sara Canning, Mathieu Bourguet, Ferron Guerreiro.
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