Broken Horses

Rated 2.0

To the extent that it's possible, I tend to avoid extra-textual awareness of the films that I might review. I shun gossip and spoilers, mistrust all hype and never read the media notes that studios spoon-feed to lazy critics. Director and co-writer Vidhu Vinod Chopra's inscrutable biblical noir western Broken Horses presents a rare exception—there's no way to fathom what's happening here without a Ken Burns documentary worth of explanatory anecdotes, much less an IMDB page. Broken Horses is the first English-language production for Chopra's India-based production company, which at least partially explains why good actors like Thomas Jane and Vincent D'Onofrio behave as though English was their second language. It's hard to tell if the film is an unfunny joke or an earnest failure, but ham-fisted symbolism and sloppy plotting rule regardless; to see this sort of genre smashup done right, check out last year's Young Ones. D.B.