Yet another version of the Cain and Abel story, “Two Brothers, a Girl and a Gun” fuses conventions of Hollywood’s family melodrama of the 1950s and road movies of the late 1960s. Overfamiliar concept, plot and characters of this modern Canadian Western should limit its theatrical appeal, though pic showcases William Hornecker’s considerable talents in his feature directorial debut.
Drawing on such American writers as John Steinbeck and Arthur Miller, and numerous films, this is Canada’s attempt at a Western road movie, set in the spectacular badlands of southern Alberta.
Wes (Shaun Johnston), a stud in jeans and black leather jacket, and his girlfriend, Ruby (Kim Hogan), are on the run from the police for manslaughter. When Wes finds out that his mother has died, they head to the home of Cliff (David Everhart), his sensitive baby brother. Once siblings reunite, tension surfaces and confrontations about family secrets ensue.
Unfortunately, the contrasts between the “good-soft” and the “bad-bully” brothers are too schematic, including their looks, values and personal characteristics. Humor of the kind that fellow Canadian helmer Bruce McDonald uses in his own road films is totally missing from this literal effort.
Predictable climax is set in a farmhouse, where the boys grew up and which is now up for sale. Cliff is literally forced to dig a hole in the ground, while Wes digs at some painful truths about their childhood and the identity of their biological father.
Framed by Ruby’s narration, the commentary never goes beyond such cliches as “nobody knows shit” or “you kill or get killed.” The whole film amounts to a series of platitudes, exchanges of recycled dialogue and a lot of posing against the desolate Alberta prairies, which are beautifully lensed by John Tarver.
One wishes pic’s skillful tech credits, energetic music and impressive directorial talent could have been applied to more original material. As it stands, this could be enjoyed only by viewers who have not seen any road or outlaw-on-the-run movies.