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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday March 25, 2020 


Living in Texas, a state which was still wild, rough, wide open and without rules or limitations, brothers Willis (Matthew McConaughey), Jess (Ethan Hawke), Dock (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Joe (Skeet Ulrich) were barely making lives for themselves as farmers or horsemen. Willis the most enterprising of the Newton clan, had taken a stab at big business, only to be squeezed out by the country's most powerful oil barons. Determined to take their fair share of the wealth they saw all around them, the Newton brothers decided to turn to a career for which they seemed to have a natural affinity. They became America's most prolific bank robbers.

"It's been a long time since we've seen a film about a group of bank robbers who terrorised the old west. Not that these protagonists were the terrorising kind, mind you, and the west was a new kind of old west. The Newton Boys were a quartet of close brothers, farmers and cow hands from Texas, who kinda figured that robbing banks was akin to stealing from wealthy insurance brokers. It's a twisted logic which makes this film a lot of fun. It details the twenties to perfection, a time when urban America was growing, as was organised crime in post-war America. Yet it remains something of an anomaly that these four brothers, who robbed more than 80 banks and a train, lived to a ripe old age without killing a soul in the process. Perhaps that's one of the major problems with this otherwise amiable film: the characters are so darn nice that there's little room for any genuine depth of character or conflict. So it's like Butch Cassidy without the balls - or the wit. Yet, it still remains a delightfully old fashioned film, heightened by the film's clever opening credits, and under the direction of Richard Linklater (an odd choice for this genre), has a slow easiness to it that makes for pleasant, but uninvolving viewing. On the production side, the film scores well for its wonderful use of period design, and Australian cinematographer Peter James equips himself astutely, with beautiful use of lighting. The performances are also excellent, with Matthew McConaughey and Ethan Hawke working hard within some severe limitations, though it's Hawke who often dominates the film. A beautiful looking film, and at times a lot of fun, The Newton Boys lacks a dark energy to make it more memorable for the deserving subject matter."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Julianna Margulies. Dwight Yoakam, Charles Gunning, Becket Gremmels, Gail Cronauer, Chloe Webb

DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater

PRODUCER: Anne Walker-McBay

SCRIPT: Richard Linklater, Claude Stanush, Clark Lee Walker (Based on Stanush’s book)


EDITOR: Sandra Adair

MUSIC: Bad Livers (original score, Edward D. Barnes)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Catherine Hadwicke

RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes




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