Deadwood: looking into Daniel Minahan’s Western is a tricky proposition since it is the continuation of David Milch’s television series. Its view is much enrichened by previous knowledge of the material, but it’s not possible (or easily doable, in any case) to forget that and judge this as a stand-alone experience. Nevertheless, the film does a good job re-introducing the characters and relationships, laying the groundwork for those that are meeting this world for the first time. Crucially, the film respects the essence of the characters and relationships, even if they have evolved unseen. (It is interesting how “fan service” ceases to be a somewhat derogatory expression, depending on one’s relationship with the material.) The fact is, the story in itself is a classic Western tale and works in any case; its melancholic undertones, however, will be mostly lost to those who are not series’ fans. Such melancholy comes not only from the story itself, but also from the realization of how much of those characters’ lives was unseen due to the premature cancelation and also, finally, this probably is the last fans will see of them. Milch’s dialogue remains as rich and musical as it was, and beautifully delivered by the cast. Timothy Olyphant is great, and given more opportunities than the rest of the cast to shine, which he does. Ian McShane also owns his role, and manages quite well the character’s transformation. Gerald McRaney picks up where he left off, with a great villain. Maria Caso’s production design is once more spot-on, as is Janie Bryant’s costume design.
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