The Reel Review
An Englishwoman in the late 1800s American West joins forces with an ex-cavalry Pawnee scout in her quest to seek revenge for the death of her son. Eventually the two discover their fate is bound by a shared history and a common goal, in this Amazon original Western series starring Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer (Twilight).
The English is an absolutely beautiful, wondrous Western – sweeping, scenic vistas and bright blue skies capture a sense of the iconic natural beauty of the American West juxtaposed against the era’s hideous violence and lawlessness. Blunt and Spencer are both phenomenal as the two outsiders pushing back against a broken system, with a strong supporting cast that includes Stephen Rea (V for Vendetta, The Crying Game), Toby Jones (The Painted Veil), Ciarán Hinds (Belfast) and Rafe Spall (Prometheus) as the villainous David Melmont. With an equally impressive, epic score, it’s interesting to see how environment, both physical and emotional, changes people’s appearances and personalities.
The issue with The English is with writer/director Hugo Blick’s story. With so much focus on weaving a sumptuous, poetic narrative, The English at times gets bogged down in its own storytelling, dragging in its dialogue-heavy, flashback-laden midsection – as we see how the two main characters’ paths were destined to cross. Those who stick it out will be rewarded with a rousing, final two episodes and an emotional gut punch of a finish.
• Although set in the American West, The English was filmed in central Spain, where Sergio Leone filmed some of his iconic “Spaghetti Westerns” of the 1960s.
• The IllumiNative racial and social justice organization and Native American Pawnee and Cheyenne advisors were consulted throughout production to ensure accuracy.
• Emily Blunt learned horseback riding three months prior to production and had to take a daily dose of antihistamine tablets throughout production to combat her horse allergies.