EAST OF THE MOUNTAINS
(director:S.J. Chiro; screenwriter: Thane Swigart/based on the novel by David Guterson; cinematographer: Sebastien Scandiuzzi; editor: Eric Frith; music: Les Hall; cast: Tom Skerritt(Ben Givens), Mira Sorvino (Renee Givens), Annie Gonzalez (Anita Romero), Vivtoria Summer Felix (Young Rachel), Wally Dalton (Aidan Givens), John Paulsen (Bill Harden); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Jane Charles, Mischa Jakupcak: Quiver Distribution; 2021)
“More rewarding for Skerritt’s dignified performance (the best one of his career) than the telling of such a low-key story.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
S.J. Chiro(“Lane 1974”) efficiently directs and writer Thane Swigart smoothly adapts David Guterson’s best-selling 1999 novel East of the Mountains to the screen. The 88-year-old veteran character actor Tom Skeritt plays the cardiologist widower Ben Givens, a terminally ill man who has given up on life and is returning to the mountain area where he was raised to commit suicide that he’s going to disguise as a hunting accident.
Ben, who decided to become a doctor while fighting in the Korean conflict, departs to the east of the Cascades in his car from Seattle with his hunting dog Rex, a Brittany spaniel, and a shotgun, leaving his daughter Renee (Mira Sorvin) behind believing he has gone on a hunting trip. She’s unaware he has cancer and of his intention to kill himself. He arrives in the verdant farm land of Washington’s Columbia River basin, where he has rich memories of his childhood.
But things grind to halt when he has engine trouble. The journey continues when a happy young couple give him a ride, but are surprised when he asks to get off on an isolated road to hike off into the wide open spaces.
The film is more rewarding for Skerritt’s dignified performance (the best one of his career) than the telling of such a low-key story that is melancholy.
It was filmed around the community of Gold Bar in Snohomish County and the grasslands of Kittitas County. The location shots of DP Scandiuzzi are simply gorgeous.
REVIEWED ON 11/14/2021 GRADE: B