The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review – Mojave Desert serves as film’s set, template

By Jamil Oakford/ editor-in-chief

Mojave is similar to its desert backdrop: banal and void of much on the surface, but if examined closer, life remains.

Oscar Isaac (right) stars in Mojave as Jack, a slightly obsessive desert hermit. Isaac, shown here with Louise Bourgoin, becomes infatuated with the life of his nemesis.Photo courtesy A24
Oscar Isaac (right) stars in Mojave as Jack, a slightly obsessive desert hermit. Isaac, shown here with Louise Bourgoin, becomes infatuated with the life of his nemesis.
Photo courtesy A24

The film follows the journey of tortured artist Thomas, who is struggling with the weight of his own genius. After a chance meeting in the Mojave Desert with a strange man named Jack, he finds that his deeds have followed him back to Los Angeles.

While this is a relatively short film compared to similar recent movies, it’s intriguing enough. But even with the 90-minute window, its pacing feels off.

Between several long shots of Thomas walking around the desert and dialogue-heavy motifs revealed through Jack, the mysterious stranger from the desert makes this film feel longer than it actually is.

It’s easy enough to say Mojave is a bland contemporary drama. It has all the elements of any modern film of its nature.

Slightly obscure motifs that somehow work with the backdrop of the film, psychoanalytical moments with the characters and two evenly matched minds dueling for dominance — all contribute to Mojave’s banal surface.

Garrett Hedlund provides a stoic and hardened performance of Thomas, a characterization he’s been criticized for in the past but actually works well in this film. And Oscar Isaac, portraying Jack, gives life to a very complex character. Both do a great job working off of each other and creating an atmosphere of reality to their performances.

Director and screenwriter William Monahan, best known for his screenplay The Departed, doesn’t hit a home run with this movie, but he does offer a unique approach.

For example, Thomas’ job isn’t made clear in the beginning. The only information we know about any of these characters is what they choose to say aloud or what another character finds out. It creates a game for the viewer to figure out if someone is lying or just to simply figure out what they do.

Mojave does have brilliant moments, but it hardly has an identity of its own. This film can be missed if it comes to a cinema nearby but will make for a wonderful Redbox find when it goes to DVD.

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