“Welcome the fuck back.”
Deadwood: The Movie’s poster knew precisely who it was coming for – Deadwood fans and Deadwood fans alone. The two-hour, HBO Movies production isn’t here to create new business, it’s been made to tie up the storylines of the brilliant, wonderfully obtuse TV show.
Deadwood was brought to a sudden and vociferously protested end after three seasons. That was all the way back in 2006. It took 13 years of fan campaigns, aligned with actor desire (and availability) to resurrect David Milch’s sweary, stylistically Shakespearean western.
Show creator, David Milch wrote the film and established TV director Daniel Minahan (Game of Thrones, House of Cards) is in the chair. It’s evident early on that Deadwood: The Movie has a notably larger budget than the show, used mainly (and to good effect) to establish the expanse in the titular ‘camp’.
The movie is set ten years on from where viewers last saw the beloved players on the Deadwood stage. Permanently on-edge Sheriff Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), murderous brothel owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) and live wire, savvy prostitute Trixie (Paula Malcomson) return as two other notable former residents arrive back in the camp: Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) and Alma Ellsworth (Molly Parker).
While there’s an effort made to make Deadwood: The Movie at least something of a standalone film, the flashbacks and exposition are really there to remind the viewer what happened thirteen years ago. The plot is no more convoluted than that of all Deadwood’s hens coming home to roost.
All of the main, still living, characters converge to fire up old grudges and rekindle old friendships. As one would expect, there’s flowery fucking language and liberal use of ‘cocksucker’. There’s also violence, treachery and nudity – exactly what was in the show.
By moving the story on, one suspects due primarily to how visibly some of the actors have aged, there’s a wistful feel to this production, an air of sadness and finality. That doesn’t mean that the action suffers, there’s plenty of pain in varying forms, but Deadwood: The Movie, is clearly here as a show closer. It’s not a film for new viewers. If you’re just watching Deadwood, head back to the start of season one.
Fans will not have any expectation for more from these characters and storylines, as Milch ties the town’s tales up conclusively and in places, rather touchingly. Deadwood: The Movie serves two purposes: to entertain and to end. And it manages both. While it’s sad to say goodbye, it’s fantastic to enjoy that closure.