Hell or High Water’s nostalgia signals not a beginning, but an end

Monumental Pictures

Can nostalgia not mean a resurgence, but instead an end? David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water (out today via Madman Films) is a 1970s cinema homage, a genre that has become more and more common over the past few years, exhibiting a particular penchant for Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin. They’re a respite from a world overcomplicated and overpolished, where simple morals and conversations (no matter how peppered with bullets) reign free and people are untethered by handheld devices. But while Hell or High Water has more than a little admiration for the likes of Badlands and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, even nodding to star Jeff Bridges’s turn as Rooster Cogburn in the Coen brothers’s True Grit remake, Mackenzie’s nostalgia is not so much for rose-coloured desire but a death.

Rooster Cogburn, though, is now an eccentric and old-school police officer named Marcus Hamilton that stares at maps and stakes out, watching…

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