Plenty of heart and soul clearly went into the making of the western-tinged, 1976-set family drama “The Divide.” The result, however, is a sluggish film that incessantly tries but never quite hits its big-as-a-barn emotional targets.
Perry King, light-years away from his 1970s-era “hot guy” image, directed and stars as Sam Kincaid, a grizzled rancher with creeping dementia and a haunted past, who reunites with his long-estranged vet-tech daughter, Sarah (Sara Arrington), and her tween son, C.J. (Luke Colombero). Meanwhile, ranch hand Luke (Bryan Kaplan), a low-key drifter with his own inner ghosts, becomes enmeshed in Sam’s downward spiral and Sarah’s flinty resentment. Unfortunately, save for C.J., they’re a pretty dreary group.
Although Sam is, nominally, the main character, Jana Brown’s script spends too much time away from him, depriving the story of a much-needed center. When we are with Sam his words and actions are largely so unfocused and repetitive (and not just because of his memory loss) that it’s hard to find a point of entry to him, despite King’s committed portrayal. In addition, much of what we learn about these folks is too often through dialogue-dumps instead of via more layered, organic conversation.
The black-and-white cinematography, artful at times, harsh at others, doesn’t do justice to the film’s primary, great-outdoors locale: King’s own Northern California cattle ranch in an area known as “the divide.”
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.
Playing: Starts Nov. 9, Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino