So who saw Hell or High Water and what are the reactions? The other day I called it the year’s best — is it? And how did the room feel, what was the after-vibe? Do you concur that it’s a social undercurrent drama disguised as a cops vs. bank-robbers movie? That it’s a meditative moralistic thing that stands up for the yokels? Or does it mainly play like a good, unpretentious Texas desperado flick? Should CBS Films be trying to sell it to red-state audiences or is it destined to connect only with blue-state urbans?
From my 8.12 review: “Any movie that rings the bell of people like me (somewhat educated, accomplished, well-travelled, blue-state values, Kooples T-shirts) as well as guys who live in the cocoon of lazy cynicism and insufficient brain-cell counts while wearing flannel shirts, cowboys boots, saggy Levi 501s and swigging Lone Star beer is definitely up to something.”
In an 8.14 Variety piece Owen Gleiberman writes that Hell or High Water is “a 2016 version of a 1970s movie…it transcends being a genre film [but also] respects how much audiences today crave genre elements.” He calls it “a crackerjack piece of entertainment” that “connects up to the most downbeat undercurrents of life in America today. That’s what gives the movie its ’70s flavor. It’s about poverty and insecurity, the gnaw of financial desperation, and the feeling that there’s no way out of it.”
Hell or High Water is going to need some word-of-mouth to stay afloat. Boxoffice Mojo reports it only made $592,000 in 32 theatres for an $18,500 average.