We take a look at the new independent feature film My Stretch of Texas Ground by director Erich Kemp. Check out our review after the jump.
My Stretch of Texas Ground is an ambitious and sprawling movie, which somehow remains personal and small at the same time, given certain character motivations, the weight of some of the things that they find themselves up against, and the overall themes and ideas that the story introduced and explores. In the film, a local Texan Sheriff named Joe Haladin goes from arguing with court-settlements and local problems, to become embroiled in a world bigger than his own: tasked with protecting those close to him against bigger threats than he’s used to. This idea is by no means exclusive to this film but is nevertheless explored in an interesting way that for the most part, had me intrigued and interested.
My Stretch of Texas Ground runs at 1 hour 40 minutes, so is by no means a small scale story in any sense of the word. I mean this in more ways than the runtime, too: the film, in general, feels very big (vast even) in its use of locations, character arcs, and themes, and it’s this scope that primarily what interested me throughout. As an audience, we travel from newsrooms to ranches, to closed in rooms to open Texan space; and this sold a lot of believability for me. I’m not sure how much budget My Stretch of Texas Ground had, but it certainly feels like a lot, or at least money well spent.
My Stretch of Texas Ground is a political movie by nature, which could put a lot of people off and in many other instances, would have put me off too. However, grittiness is a perfect word to sum up the movie and does an important job of counter-balancing the politics with moments that challenge and excite. I found several of the action/fight sequences to be very convincing (the fight with the authority and “fugitive” at the opening of the movie, in particular, made me think this way, without spoiling anything). These thrilling moments were interestingly interspersed through the drama, and politics, of the narrative, and this kept the film from falling into the mundane. Furthermore, being British, the film was interesting to me in its portrayal of America as a country. Though I’m aware of the world’s politics and problems, the film had an interesting stance on U.S. warfare and America’s battle with terrorism, and its exploration into normal people’s involvement in these areas of life was an interesting way for the film to go, for me as an audience member. The cast was solid and sold the narrative pretty efficiently. Joe was a great character in particular and having a watchable protagonist also made the journey through heavy politics and war a lot easier.
In conclusion, My Stretch of Texas Ground is a worthwhile watch, which for nothing else, impresses for its scope and production value. The film is too long, as far as I’m concerned, and with a 90-minute or so runtime, would have been a lot more enjoyable to watch and tighter in its communication of messages the filmmakers wanted to convey. Having said this, I can sympathize with the director and editor’s work: they clearly feel reasoning to include what they have in ways that aren’t necessarily self-indulgent. Nothing felt to me it really didn’t have to be there – yet there were moments of things that personally, I could’ve seen being lost. Ultimately, I think the film means a lot to those involved, and this is a good reason for anyone with an interest in political thrillers, particularly focusing on the U.S. and the Middle East, to check this movie out.