No Man's LawREVIEW
CAT INDEX OVERVIEW
Review of ‘No Man’s Law’ | Written by Rohan Bhattacharya
When we think of ‘western’ cinema, we are almost always reminded of John Ford’s classic western films, or Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western Dollar series. In recent times, with films like ‘No Country for Old Men’ by the Coen Brothers, the western genre has evolved into something beyond the typical cowboy action, or the thirst and chase for money. One might even that the Modern Western genre has introduced a more mature form of storytelling; making it so that the viewers can relate to the characters and their emotions more intimately!
Richard Douglas Jensen’s ‘No Man’s Law’ snuggly falls into the category of modern western films. The movie showcases the journey of a retired Border Patrol agent (played by Jensen himself), who had resigned from his post after an incident that crushed him. While on a mission, he found a Mexican family attempting to flee Mexico by crossing a river in the border. Unfortunately, the currents were too strong, making it impossible for them to swim. Jensen’s character had the ability and the will to go rescue the family but was ordered to stay put and do nothing. He succumbed to alcoholism, and later lost his wife and son. It is only at his darkest hour; he finds a glimmer of hope in the form of a little Mexican girl. He can either hand her over to the authorities who will deport her back to Mexico, or her can help her find her parents and save his soul. For a man who was prepared to kill himself, the choice was obvious. Despite knowing that he could become an outlaw, Jensen’s character takes the Mexican girl to her home in Alabama.
Richard Douglas Jensen’s story telling is fluid and straight forward. He means to hit the nail and does not beat around the bush. His use of exposition is never lazy, and he keeps the audience’s interest bound to the story with dramatic monologues and relatable dialogues. ‘No Man’s Law’ is without a doubt extremely politically charged. With his script, Jensen challenges the government, and rules that are clearly immoral. The father-daughter theme paired with the plot-point of rescuing a mute Mexican child seems to have found its inspiration from James Mangold’s ‘Logan’ in many ways. Jensen has, in a way, given a mutant like portrayal of immigrants. While the immigrants are normal people, they are mistreated by a government that does not seem to care at all about their well-being and safety. What stood out was Jensen’s unique use of the typical Mexican Stand-off near the end of the film, especially because his character, even though he was in a stand-off with the police, he wasn’t a part of it at the same time.
Jensen, along with the other actors did tremendously well! It was extremely refreshing to see a director utilize a different language in their script while also delivering those lines as perfectly as they might have with a line in their native tongue. Besides Jensen, the lady police officer was quite convincing in her role. Her performance reflected the character’s mental state very well! She had impressively captured the struggle her character had to go through while engaging in her final stand-off with Jensen’s character.
For a feature length project with an elaborate production plan, the film does will with its use of shots and camera angles. Although at times the Mise-en-scène looks slightly lack-luster, Jensen’s efforts show clearly in how the locations were scouted, and in the framing and blocking of scenes inside the cafeteria and the shopping center. The cinematographer’s use of lights was quite commendable, especially in the fortune-teller, and the flashback scenes. The cutting between two scenes from different locations was fluid and rhythmic. The editor seemed to have a clear grasp of the film’s pacing and was able to utilize time and location to intensify the story even further!
Overall, Richard Douglas Jensen’s ‘No Man’s Law’ is an impressive and a unique take on the modern western genre. It has the capacity to immerse the audience seamlessly and deliver a convincing and emotional story at the same time!
Rohan Bhattacharya is a video editor, filmmaker and writer. His film Komorebi won the second prize in ‘South Asia Japanese Language Short Film Competition,’ organized by The Japan Foundation, New Delhi and his latest film “Tsubaki” has been screened at the Tokyo Short Film Festival in Japan. His production house Sunkaku Productions makes movies in Japanese language to create a bridge of culture between India and Japan.