Cassidy Red Review

Cassidy Red is a 2018 western/romance about a prostitute who returns to her hometown, seeking vengeance against the corrupt lawman.

The western has predominantly been a man’s game. From wily sheriffs and marshals cleaning up the town to ranchers just trying to make living against rascally bandits looking to take over their land. Woman have mostly been on the peripheral, either as unlucky prostitutes at the local saloon or maidens in distress. Fortunately, a few movies have slowly begun to change that, with Sharon Stone‘s 1995 shoot ’em up The Quick and the Dead and more recently Natalie Portman‘s Jane Got a Gun to name a few. Now comes Matt Knudsen‘s Cassidy Red, a film that at least keeps the western alive and plays close to the tropes while remaining mostly entertaining.

In a smoky, desperately empty, brothel, a weathered looking piano player named Cricket (Gregory Zaragoza) tickles the ivories with a sallow tune while a young prostitute with a shiner saunters up and takes a seat, looking for a story and a break from the hard life. She gets one, the tale of Cassidy Red, a ballad of love and hate. He takes us back to 1874 where Josephine Cassidy (Abby Eiland) is the daughter of a saloon girl and a hired gun named Cort (Rick Cramer). Joe grew up with a gun in her hand, becoming a skilled shooter all her own and one day saves a Native American boy named Yazzie from bully Tom Hayes. Years later, however, she agrees to marry the troublesome Tom (David Thomas Jenkins) with the promise of a new life, but when Yazzie, now Jakob, (Jason Grasl) enters her life again, some old flames rekindle and this spells trouble all around. Now she’s out for revenge.

Right away, Cassidy Red isn’t a timid movie. Cassidy take a beating just as well as any of her counterpart men have, doing it in a frilly dress and fiery red hair. Eiland is a strong presence, taking the reigns of sorts with plenty of female sensuality and loads of empowerment. The film splits itself into three main parts with the storyteller one, Red’s younger years another, and her as a woman, third, not entirely told in sequence. The best are the middle ones when Cort and young Josephine (Alyssa Elle Steinacker) is under the tutelage of her father. Cramer is well cast and adds the most weight to the story. It’s good to get a little backstory on Cassidy and Knudsen, who also wrote the screenplay, manages these three threads mostly well.

Performances all around are sort of uneven and there’s not a lot of momentum, with a laid back organ-heavy score that keeps the whole thing feeling a little more like a well-made television movie of the week than a feature film. However, this is a solid western tale, if not conventionally driven. Cassidy is a compelling character and clearly inline with current social justice thinking, as well it should be, and for fans of westerns, plenty fun. While it may lack the numerous action landmarks of its predecessors, Cassidy Red is nonetheless worth a look.

Cassidy Red Review


Director(s): Matt Knudsen

Actor(s): Abby Eiland, David Thomas Jenkins, Jason Grasl

Genre: Western

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