Michelle Williams as Emily Tetherow is the middle ground behind Meek's Cutoff. The film directed by Kelly Reichardt is part of the official competition at the 67th Venice International Film Festival. It is about three covered wagons with settlers trying to make it across the rough in Oregon, in what was later to be called "Meek’s Cutoff".
Numerous shots position the wagons and the bonneted women, and the landscape for a good part of the introduction to the film. But when Emily spots "The Cayuse" (Rod Rondeaux), a Native American, while gathering firewood the settlers go after him and tie him up.
Eventually Emily gets into a firepower standoff with Steven Meek (Bruce Greenwood) about whether or not to allow the captive to live and lead the settlers to water. Meek has been obstinate about the course the settlers should take and is a bossy bigot. His view of men as forces of destruction and women as chaos doesn’t really fit with what Emily understands is a question of survival for men and women alike. The settlers are tired, hungry and in need of water. She knows only "The Cayuse" can lead them to it.
There is plenty of room for contemplation in this film, which is why it was chosen to compete for the Golden Lion, which will be awarded on September 11.