2014 / Director. Terry Miles.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
LONESOME DOVE CHURCH will trick a lot of viewers into assuming that it is an official companion to the popular series of LONESOME DOVE films based on the books of Larry McMurtry. I guess in some ways people can play along as though it were an actual prequel, however it depicts the true story of how the real Lonesome Dove church in Texas came to be. It is the account of the real characters and not the fictional ones woven through McMurtry’s stories.
Tom Berenger stars as John Shepherd, an idealistic preacher who travels to Texas with dreams of building his own church. Upon arrival he is faced with the moral dilemma of defending his son, who stands accused of murder. With the community against him, he stands defiant with his son by his side and finds himself in the firing line of trigger-happy residents.
LONESOME DOVE CHURCH is a small film from the outset. With a modest budget and a limited production, it employs a variety of filmmaking techniques to present a western landscape, devoid of the big sweeping master shots that the genre so often relies on. The camera gets in close and cosy with the characters and uses various angles to keep the momentum moving. Whether we're watching Tom Berenger though the flickering crackle of a campfire or witnessing a stage-coach robbery without a great deal of depth, the film certainly managed to hold my attention without any restlessness.
Director Terry Miles previously made DAWN RIDER starring Christian Slater and Donald Sutherland as well as some other notable notable indie films such as CINEMANOVELS and A NIGHT FOR DYING TIGERS. He is no stranger to a low budget production, but perhaps having a period setting is a little beyond his capabilities. That's not to say that he didn't manage it adequately. It’s far from a great film but it’s a presentable one nonetheless. The misleading title will snag some viewers but I can't help but feel that it will inevitably work against it. This is not the LONESOME DOVE that people will expect and it's low-key, small budget aesthetic will quickly turn people off. Those who gravitate towards the western genre will definitely get more from it than others and its historical context makes it a passable, albeit uninspired, direct-to-video/movie-of-the-week type of flick.