The Stolen Valley

They’re two young women from the wrong side of the tracks trying to make the best of what little they have in a hard world, Lupe a Cedar City motor mechanic of Navajo descent, good at her job but taken for granted by her boss, while Maddy is queen of the rodeo, riding to win the big prize money which will pay off the debts to the dangerous men she owes.

One bad day away from disaster, when Lupe’s mother is taken seriously ill, the experimental treatment beyond their means, she sets out to find the father she had been told died years before hoping he can help; stopping to pawn some jewellery for cash on the way she walks into a fight, Maddy’s lender trying to double the debt and she not taking kindly to it, the two of them taking to the road and trying to stay one step ahead of trouble.

Written and directed by Jesse Edwards who also serves as director of photography and producer, The Stolen Valley is a dimestore Western novel thrown on the screen with hopes that the energy and urgency will cover the shortcomings of the script which leans heavily on unlikely escapes and even less plausible coincidences when Lupe and Maddy arrive at Alta Valley to discover trouble exists wherever they look for it.

A crazed road trip rather than a serious drama, helping enormously are Briza Covarrubias as accomplice-by-default Lupe, more comfortable dancing the flamenco in a biker bar than handling a gun, and Allee Sutton Hethcoat as Maddy, who even having spent the night in a jail cell emerges with perfect hair and makeup, while Micah Fitzgerald’s distant daddy Carl is predictably bad news, a cruel and greedy man who plans to sell the valley an oil company.

Displacing the tribe which calls the valley home, among them Lupe’s grandmother Lizette (Paulette Lamori), the answer lies in the deed of ownership of the land, Lupe concocting to break in to Carl’s home and look through his documents as slowly as possible, her father only having taken marginally greater care to conceal it than Adamina (Paula Miranda) who simply left it lying about when she fled twenty years previously while pregnant with Lupe.

Shot in the magnificent wilds of Utah with perfect skies and long roads winding through mountains worn down across millennia by winds and rain, The Stolen Valley carries themes of cultural resentment and broken families, but with too many wheels spinning in the dirt and not enough focus the cast have to push to keep the overwrought premise on track, a western where the gun is always the final word which claims a stake on modernity by having the white man the irredeemable villain.

The Stolen Valley is available on digital download now



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