Like sipping whiskey on a lazy Sunday afternoon, “Deadwood: The Movie” gradually but deliberately rewards fans who have waited 13 years to find out what happened to our favorite foul-mouthed ne’er-do-wells.
South Dakota’s 1889 statehood celebration reunites those who moved on from this dusty midwestern town such as Alma Garret (Molly Parker) and Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) with those who never left. The latter includes Al Swearengen and Seth Bullock (stars Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant, who double as executive producers).
There’s also Trixie (Paula Malcomson), Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif), Sol Star (John Hawkes) and Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie) among others all spewing beautifully crafted dialogue filled with flowery four-letter swears and gems of wisdom. None are as masterful as McShane, of course, and writer and creator David Milch wastes no time giving good old Al all the best lines.
“Does brevity exist in your repertoire, sir?” Al asks an especially despicable George Hearst, reprised by the incomparable Gerald McRaney. Later when a sickly Al contemplates his mortality, a humorous but thoughtful discussion on death with Doc Cochran ensues. He throws in a “loopy c-nt” for good measure, of course, but not right away.
As for Olyphant, he continues to cut a figure as a bonified and just lawman in a lawless world as Bullock. And after a six-year stint on “Justified,” is all the more believable.
Meanwhile, William Sanderson brilliantly injects moments of levity like only he can as self-described “titular mayor” E.B. Farnum. There are also a few comical character blunders from Bullock, Trixie and Jane that lighten the mood throughout.
Although there are moments where the table setting lasts a little too long – the meat of the action via a murder doesn’t take place for 40 minutes – time matters less when you’re catching up with old friends. Better still is the increased pace and gunfire the film experiences after said death. There are some other significant milestones that take place but because this is a movie and not a series, any and all mentions of them could be too spoiler-y.
Flashbacks are dispatched effectively and sparingly for fans who are either new to the series or may have forgotten a storyline or two. The complicated feelings between Bullock and Alma definitely fall under this category, for instance.
But thankfully the smoldering tension in their longing glances do the trick. Anna Gunn returns as Bullock’s wife Martha, and she has a few great lines and looks too. The romantic feelings between Jane and Joanie (Kim Dickens) are also fun to explore. The biggest complaint, aside from the endless procession of ancillary characters at times, is in regards to the small cluster of loose ends that linger when the movie concludes.