Two Brothers, A Girl, and a Gun

Yet another version of the Cain and Abel mythic tale, Two Brothers, A Girl and a Gun fuses conventions of Hollywood's family melodramas of the l950s and road movies of the late l960s. Overfamiliarity with concept and plot of this modern Canadian Western should limit its theatrical appeal, though pic showcases William H. Hornecker's considerable talents in his directorial feature debut.

Inspired by such American classics as John Steinbeck (East of Eden) and Arthur Miller (The Price), and numerous films, Two Brothers, A Girl and A Gun is Canada's attempt at a Western road movie, set in the spectacular badlands of southern Alberta.

Wes (Shaun Johnston), a stud in jeans and black leather jacket, and his girlfriend Ruby (Kim Hogan) are on the run from the police for manslaughter. When Wes finds out that his mother had died, they head to the home of Cliff (David Everhart), his sensitive baby brother. Once siblings reunite, tension surfaces and confrontations about some long-buried family secrets ensue.

Unfortunately, the contrasts between the “good-soft” and the “bad-bully” brothers are too schematic, including their names, looks, and the values and personal characteristics attached to them. Humor of the kind that fellow Canadian helmer Bruce McDonald uses in his own road films (Highway 61) is totally missing from this literal effort.

Predictable climax is set in a farm house, where the boys grew up and is now up for sale. Cliff is literally forced to dig a hole the ground, while Wes digs some painful truths about their childhood and the identity of their biological father.

Framed by Ruby's narration, the commentary never goes beyond such cliches as “nobody knows shit,” or “you kill or get killed.” The whole film amounts to a series of platitudes, exchanges of recycled dialogue, and a lot of posing against the desolate Alberta prairies (beautifully lensed by John Travers).

One wishes pic's proficient technical credits, energetic music, and impressive directorial talent could be applied to a more original material. As it stands, Two Brothers. a Girl and a Gun can be enjoyed only by viewers who have not seen any road or “outlaw on the run” movies.