Quentin Tarantino has a history of delivering not only box office hits, but also poignant and quality feature films that are confronting and quite often leave audiences squirming in their seats, The Hateful Eight continues that tradition of master storytelling, stunning cinematography and issues about race and class that make this (and this is a VERY early call) possibly my favourite film of 2016.
Taking place in the post Civil War era in Wyoming, a stage coach carrying John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and a prisoner named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) comes across a stranger in a snow storm Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) dragging a sled of dead bodies behind him. As the three discuss their connections and possible trust, they are on their way to the town of Red Rock where Daisy is set to be hanged for a reward of $10,000.00, similarly Warren is set to receive $8,000.00 for his dead bodies. The three agree to accompany each other to the town and stop at Annie’s Haberdashery on the way to ride out the storm, when they arrive Annie has already left to visit relatives and the store is being looked after by some shady looking characters. John and Marquis must figure out who is working with prisoner Daisy to free her and stop all of them.
Just like Django Unchained, there is a ton of controversy around this film in relation to Daisy and the treatment of women in this film, as well as the usual race and violence that gets questioned every-time Tarantino makes a film and the world acts surprised, that being said though the level of violence is strikingly high in this film. The punches comes hard and brutal as does the gun fight and level of blood. Now this is not surprising for Tarantino, but it does raise the question, why so much in this film?
Anyway I digress, the enchanting location of snow-saturated Wyoming is almost a character itself, the landscape is rich as it is hostile and Annie’s Haberdashery is appropriately decorated for the murder mystery setting and accommodates the large range of characters spread out as the whodunnit element of the film unfolds. As much as I would love to drop in some spoilers here, I will not as this is one of the best films to go into only knowing as little as possible about the plot and anything that unfolds.
Without going through everyone individually, acting wise everyone involved is at the top of their games here, Jackson stands out as the Major walking around with a secret, Russell is in “comeback territory” with his Ruth-less villain/hero dynamic and Jason-Leigh while some found her to be a comedy gag prop, I found her engaging and interesting not only character wise, but also her presence on screen as the potential villain and murderess was an interesting dynamic with Russell and both played the dialogue out perfectly.
Tarantino films are equally as famous for their dialogue, and it is no different here. I was engaged from this film from the first word and the array of quips and conversations shoot fast back and forth. It is some of his best writing and directing and a true return to form (not that I personally believe he ever left!) I only wish I could have seen the film in 70 MM as he intended, but alas there are no accommodating cinemas of this calibre in my area.
Overall The Hateful Eight is already my top film of 2016 and I cannot wait to nab a second viewing to pick up on the gems I not doubt missed. The combination of humour, violence and story showcased just how important Tarantino films are and as I am going to say generation defining in subject and style. If you haven’t already, make sure you check this out at the cinemas (in 70mm if possible!)