was called Reconstruction, implying rebuilding and renewal, but there was still
considerable violence during the years following the Civil War. The Rileys will
learn this first hand. They are not Radical Republicans facing the wrath of the
Ku Klux Klan. They will simply get caught up in an old school family feud.
Unfortunately, the war made killing is immeasurably easier in Kane Senes’s Echoes of War (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
war has been over for a while, but Uncle Wade is only now making his way home
to Texas. He clearly saw considerable action and it changed him. The Riley
family had their share of tragedy on the homefront as well. His sister
Elizabeth passed away, leaving his devout brother-in-law Seamus Riley to raise
their nearly grown daughter Abigail and teenage son Samuel.
kids love their uncle, but Riley is far less embracing. They seem to have
history, but Uncle Wade has history with everyone. He soon discovers the
formerly well-to-do McCluskey family has been raiding Riley’s traps with
impugnity, barely leaving enough for the family to live on. The father is a
turn-the-other-cheek fellow, who also remains mindful of the complicated
relations between the respective families. In contrast, their thievery does not
sit well with Uncle Wade, so he aims to fix it. Of course, this all complicates
Abigail’s Capulet-and-Montague romance with the earnest but ineffectual Marcus
Senes will get down to score-settling, but he is clearly more interested in
exploring Uncle Wade’s post-traumatic stress and young McCluskey’s halting
courtship of Abigail. Arguably, the chaotic in media res opener is not the way
to commence a moody film like Echoes.
It is an impressively textured film, with a good eye for period detail and
natural backdrops. However, the tragic inevitability of the narrative could
also be uncharitably described as predictable. Just imagine the worst that
could happen and it probably will.
an awful lot of people will eventually see Echoes
on VOD or cable, because Maika Monroe is about ten seconds away from being
the next Jennifer Lawrence. (Honestly, has JLaw done anything as cool as It Follows?) She is quite good as
Abigail Riley, but her characters stays well within the conventional parameters
for a daughter of the old west.
the other hand, Ethan Embry is nearly unrecognizable, in every way, as the
tortured Seamus Riley. His Old Time religion could have easily become the stuff
of cliché and even mockery, but Embry uses it to bring out his humanity. It is
a great performance, but also James Badge Dale proves he has the chops and presence
to lead a film as the tightly wound Uncle Wade. As usual, William Forsythe does
his thing as the overbearing McCluskey patriarch, but it is hard to see why
Miss Abigail would entertain the advances of Rhys Wakefield’s lifeless junior
To its credit, Echoes is a handsome period production. At times, you can smell the
honeysuckle and feel the hot dry Texas air. Senes helms with notable
sensitivity, but the story of the shell-shocked veteran having trouble coming
to grips with life after war started yielding declining marginal returns years
ago. Recommended for western-Americana viewers looking for a streaming
distraction, Echoes of War releases
tomorrow (5/15) on iTunes and opens in New York at the AMC Loews Village 7.
Labels: Ethan Embry, Maika Monroe, Texas Cinema