In “Hostiles”, Rosamund Pike and Christian Bale play broken characters who try to overcome their desperation on a chaotic ride. If their relationship in the western communicates a lot of emotions, the two actors hardly spoke to each other on the set.
Hostiles : the last ride
When he received the manuscript from the late screenwriter Donald E. Stewart (Hunting for Red October, War games) at the beginning of Hostiles, Scott Cooper grabs it. The director rewrites this western with most of the actors in mind, starting with Christian Bale, with whom he befriended on the set of the drama The Infernos of Wrath.
The actor here lends his features to Captain Joseph J. Blocker. Gnawed by violence, this emblematic figure of the American army is entrusted a final mission before retiring. The soldier is ordered to escort Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), a dying Cheyenne chief, as well as several members of his family to their land.
For this journey between New Mexico and Montana, Blocker can count on the presence of the faithful Sergeant Metz (Rory Cochrane) and Corporal Woodson (Jonathan Majors), as well as Lieutenant Kidder (Jesse Plemons). At the start of the journey, the convoy comes across the devastated farm of Rosalee Quaid (Rosamund Pike), whose three children and husband were killed by Comanche warriors. Traumatized, she agrees to join the group.
In order to have a chance of surviving their crossing, Captain Blocker, Yellow Hawk and Rosalee Quaid will have to put aside their hatred as well as their pain, and unite to counter many threats. Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ben Foster, Peter Mullan, Timothée Chalamet, Bill Camp, Paul Anderson and Stephen Lang complete the impressive cast of this feature film about the bloody building of the United States, released in 2018.
Despite the chaos in which they are plunged, the characters embodied by Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike gradually manage to glimpse a semblance of hope in Hostiles. The first tries to live with the acts he has committed and suffered, which gradually brings him to a truce with Yellow Hawk. By joining the convoy, the second can begin to mourn.
To best restore the powerful links that animate them and the place they manage to find within the group, Scott Cooper decides to shoot the film chronologically. In a behind-the-scenes report on the feature film, he explains about this choice:
It was convenient for me as a director and for the actors. It allowed us to follow this path together.
A distance that perfectly serves the film
After their meeting in appalling conditions, a modest relationship and animated by a deep respect grows between Rosalee Quaid and Captain Blocker, first passing primarily through looks and then through existential conversations that help them overcome their sadness.
During filming, Rosamund Pike and Christian Bale voluntarily establish a distance between them so that their silences on the screen work, which makes the evolution of their relationship all the more touching. During the promotion, the actress declares about her partner to Metro, cited by the Times of India :
He’s intense in a wonderful way. We barely spoke outside of takes, he was keeping his distance. Our characters in Hostiles are dysfunctional but have this deep connection that we let happen without ever really talking about it. I loved working with Christian because we didn’t really communicate, but yet I knew I could throw anything at him and he would be there.
A palpable alchemy that is one of the many qualities of Hostiles.