Critic Consensus: Vistas and violence root Godless firmly in traditional Western territory, but its female-driven ensemble sets it apart in a male-dominated genre.
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Notorious criminal Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) and his gang of outlaws are on a mission of revenge against Roy Goode (Jack O'Connell), a son-like protégé who betrayed the brotherhood. While on the run, Roy seeks refuge with hardened widow Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery), an outcast herself, in a worn-down, isolated mining town of La Belle, NM--governed mainly by women. When word reaches La Belle that Griffin is headed their way, the town bands together to defend against the murderous gang in… More
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Scott Frank's western, focused on an 1880s town populated mainly by women, is a great pleasure.
Even though Godless certainly employs some familiar genre tropes and scenes of violence and romance, it still manages to surprise and subvert expectations in unique ways.
Godless is so swept up in the romance of the West that it shortchanges practically everything else -- character, context, story.
Godless certainly doesn't do much to subvert genre clichés... But then, westerns were never about pushing boundaries - they were about entertainment, and Godless has that in abundance.
So-so Western is well-acted, but moves at a snail's pace.
Godless, with its cinematic longshots of unfettered Western plains, a moody and effective soundtrack, and a phenomenal cast, seemed destined for greatness. But unfortunately, the town of La Belle isn't just lawless - it's also a bit aimless.
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