However, the script does not totally use its gimmick as often as it perhaps should to really sell it. None of the characters react to the modern technology being used to capture their accounts of that day. They don’t ask what the future holds. If the gimmick of time-traveling filmmakers was swapped for an era-appropriate reporter who decided to interview all those same people about the O.K. Corral incident, what would change about the film? Excluding one scene, admittedly engaging as it is, absolutely nothing. And that is a bit of a disappointment given who wrote and directed it.
Yet, despite that Tombstone-Rashomon works, almost, from start to finish. For starters, Cox’s abilities behind the camera are on full display. His film is filled to the brim with excellent cinematography by Alana Murphy, which gives the film both a hazy dream-like quality and a grounded, realistic take at the same time. The final shot is poignant and proves that Cox’s style does not sacrifice humanity and emotion in favor of experimental ideas just for their own sake. The edits between the interviews and the narrative plot points of the past are well-handled, and whose viewpoint it currently is never gets lost.
“…the narrative plot points of the past are well-handled, and whose viewpoint it currently is never gets lost.”
The cast is also a huge reason why the movie works so well. Everyone does an excellent job, with Jesse Lee Pacheo being the standout. At first, he comes across as pompous and good for nothing. But, when explaining how he has no idea how a miscommunication occurred, the thing that sparked the beginning of the gunfight itself, Pacheo sells his character’s remorse and resignation perfectly. Doidge, as Kate, is also fantastic, as anytime she’s on-screen, she gets a few chuckles out of the viewer, seemingly with no effort whatsoever.
Schumacher makes this version of Doc Holliday his own, which is quite a feat, considering this character has been in the pop culture consciousness recently due to the excellent Syfy show Wynonna Earp. But he never feels like an imitation of anyone else who has donned the hat of the character and is great. As Wyatt Earp, Newberry is also quite good. He makes the man’s mannered mannerisms an endearing trait, as opposed to an albatross around the man’s neck.
Tombstone-Rashomon hinges on a framing device that proves a bit unnecessary and perhaps is more distracting than intended. But Alex Cox’s script is filled with witty dialogue and ably juggles tone and an intricate plot structure to build towards a great ending. The actors all breathe new life into their well-written characters, and the film looks terrific. If you are a fan of Cox’s other works, Westerns, or experimental films in general, then you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.
"…proves that Cox’s style does not sacrifice humanity and emotion in favor of experimental ideas just for their own sake."