Meek's Cutoff movie synopsis: Based on an actual 1845 incident, Kelly Reichardt’s latest road movie (just picked up by Oscilloscope) is a great leap into the void for this talented, quirky New York filmmaker—a minimalist Western with intimations of frontier surrealism and manifest destiny madness. The members of an Oregon-bound wagon train (including a severely bonneted Michelle Williams) are misled into the desert by their bombastic, wrong-headed guide (Bruce Greenwood). The movie has a spacey, tranced-out quality, but the political implications, regarding trust given and abused, are unmistakable.
Additional Notes: The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon train of three families has hired mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a shortcut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants face the scourges of hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in one another’s instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as a natural born enemy.