- 1 hr 34 min
Purgatory, released in 1999, is a Western adventure film that serves as a combination of the classic American Western genre and the afterlife. The film depicts a town called Refuge, which lies in a valley enclosed by towering cliffs. It is inhabited by a group of people who have died in the Wild West, yet their souls can't rest as they are stuck in a sort of spiritual limbo as they are trapped in the town. Refuge's residents must come alive in their new world, where morals and judgments are murky at best.
At the center of the story is a group of notorious outlaws, including Blackjack Britton (Eric Roberts), Johnny Gault (Brad Rowe), and Tom (Randy Quaid), who are sentenced to death for their crimes. As they make their way to their final destination, they find themselves lost in a mysterious, dangerous desert, which leads them to an unexpected discovery.
The outlaws end up in the town of Refuge, where they are welcomed by a strange group of inhabitants, including the town's sheriff, Forrest (Sam Shepard). They are informed that they have been placed in a kind of spiritual purgatory and must earn their way out through good deeds and acts of redemption.
As they begin to adjust to their new surroundings in Refuge, each of the outlaws starts to connect with the town's inhabitants in their own way. As for Blackjack Britton, he begins to take an interest in the town's young schoolteacher, Rose (Shannon Kenny), whom he develops a crush on.
The outlaws soon learn they are not the only ones stranded in Refuge. The town is home to a group of pure souls who have also been trapped in this purgatory for reasons less nefarious than those of the outlaws. The pure souls long for the day they can leave the town and move on to the afterlife, while the outlaws grapple with redemption.
Purgatory's storyline engages the theme of redemption, portraying the outlaws' journey to find their place in this new world and earn a second chance at salvation. The film is about the choices we make in life and the belief that we all need redemption, regardless of what wrong we have done.
The film's stunning visuals, which depict the rugged, dusty landscapes of the old west, offer excellent cinematography of the American frontier. The action scenes, such as the many gunfights and high-speed chases, make for a thrilling watch.
The film's ensemble cast also does a stellar job in bringing each of their characters to life and making each of their character arcs believable. Shepard, as the determined and honorable sheriff, is a standout in the film, playing his role with an understated strength that adds to the character's complexity. Roberts, Quaid, and Rowe all deliver strong performances and add depth to their characters' inner struggles and emotional journeys.
The direction of the film by Uli Edel is full of flair and style, giving the film a distinct old western feel that effectively transports the viewers into the story's setting.
The film's soundtrack is also a standout, composed by Mark Snow, which perfectly captures the film's mood and tone, lending an air of mysteriousness and other-worldliness to the town of Refuge.
Overall, Purgatory is an engaging and thought-provoking film, offering a fresh take on the Western genre while exploring the themes of redemption and the afterlife. It is a movie that will appeal to fans of westerns, action movies, and supernatural thrillers.
Purgatory is a 1999 fantasy movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8.