by Eric D. Snider
Released: January 22, 2005
I don't know about you, but I forget about the Indians sometimes. We relegated them to reservations decades ago, effectively shutting them off from the rest of America both geographically and culturally, and the writers and artists who emerge from the Native American world are few. "5th World" will not help bridge this gap. It is a brief glimpse into the world of the modern Navajo, but it is also a brief, painfully dull glimpse.
It is about two Navajos, Andrei (Sheldon Silentwalker) and Aria (Livandrea Knoki), who have met only recently at college in Arizona and are now traveling to Aria's mother's house on the reservation in New Mexico. They hitchhike most of the way, giving them many hours between rides to talk. The film, though ostensibly written by the director, Larry Blackhorse Lowe, nonetheless feels improvised much of the time as Andrei and Aria engage in naturalistic banter about movies, Navajo life and other minutiae.
Their rapport is casual and believable, though not necessarily interesting. Rather than introducing anything as revolutionary as, say, a plot, Lowe gives us endless shots of desert landscapes and blue skies, often recalling Gus Van Sant's "Gerry" (which featured Matt Damon and Casey Affleck wandering, lost, in the desert for 90 minutes).
Something does eventually happen in "5th World," but it's more than an hour into the film -- and the film's only an hour and 15 minutes long. By then it's too late. We have been given a window into a world that is foreign to most of us, and we have found that world exceedingly tiresome, which surely is a disservice to Native Americans.
Not rated, probably R for a lot of harsh profanity, some farm violence (a lamb gets slaughtered, for real)
1 hr., 15 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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