Meek’s Cutoff

Palpable Suspense in Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Meek’s Cutoff’

In the opening scene to Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, the characters stop to gather water at a river. The year is 1845, and this group of travelers are made up of three families that are traversing the treacherous Oregon Trail. After obtaining the water, they leave. Reichardt’s camera stays. She lingers on the river just long enough to fill a viewer with a sense of foreboding. This is likely the last place of refuge for miles. Everything, from here on, will be trouble.

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