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Review: Sidekick 'Lefty Brown' shines in the spotlight

Posted Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:12 PM Central
Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:13 PM Central

by John Couture

We have sung the praises of A24 in the past, but with The Ballad of Lefty Brown they surprise us yet again and prove that they have their fingers squarely on the pulse film aficionados everywhere. Known more for their thrillers and genre films, A24 proves that good storytelling can transcend no matter the genre.

Western films have always proved to be great performers on home entertainment, but it seems that there is always a dearth of new films in this genre. A24 primarily specializes in distribution which is a lot less risky a proposition than production and they proved their skills when they plucked this film up after its debut at last year's South by Southwest film festival.

The Ballad of Lefty Brown is an interesting film that takes tried and true Western trope, the trusty sidekick, and turns it on its ear. When his friend and newly elected Senator is killed right next to him, Lefty Brown vows to track down those responsible for his friend's murder.

First and foremost, the thing that sticks out about The Ballad of Lefty Brown is the cast. When you read through it, you know that you're going to get a couple of hours of high-quality entertainment. Actors like Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel and Peter Fonda are true A-listers and they are on top of their game in Lefty Brown.

Just don't get too attached to Peter Fonda. As you can clearly see in the trailer above, his murder is the one that jumpstarts the film's events. While he has very little screen time, Fonda maximizes every second so that when his demise does come to pass, we are immediately invested in the journey that Lefty Brown is about to take.

Speaking of the titular character, Bill Pullman provides a ridiculous interpretation of a trusty sidekick with such naivety that it immediately grabs the audience. This man has lost his best friend and he is determined to bring those responsible to justice. His earnest portrayal translates into a character that demands compassion and becomes a rooting interest that everyone can rally around for the balance of the film.

It is readily apparent that writer/director Jared Moshe is a huge Western fan and his adoration translate into the minutiae that the audience soaks up on the screen. There are little homages to classic and lesser-known Westerns, but primarily the film spends its time on Lefty Brown's journey. Usually, the sidekick's only purpose in a Western is to provide occasional comic relief and to drink plenty of whiskey, so it's refreshing to see one get a chance to shine.

Over the years, Hollywood has been looking for ways to reinvent the Western film. The closest that they have come to successfully cloning the feel and vibe of the traditional Western to modern storytelling was probably 2016's Hell or High Water. But sometimes, you just don't need to reinvent the wheel. A good film will stand on its own.

When you sit down to watch a film and you see the A24 Films logo pop up on the screen, you can bet that what you are going to see will fill that bill. They have a great eye for spotting talent and The Ballad of Lefty Brown is just the latest example of their ability to bring interesting stories to their audience.

Even if you aren't the biggest Western fan, I strongly recommend that you check out The Ballad of Lefty Brown. You never know, it might uncover a passion for the Old West that you never knew you had. Whatever the case, I can guarantee that you will be enterained thoroughly over the ensuing hour and a half.

The Ballad of Lefty Brown is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.