Cinema: Wandering in the Desert

The Reward is a U.S. western from a book written by an Englishman and made by a French director with a Swedish leading man, a French-American heroine, and a number of Mexican actors who deliver at least half the dialogue in Spanish. These exotic ingredients were pressure-cooked on location in the 125° midsummer heat of California's Death Valley, and the result is indigestible.

It looks good, though. Director Serge Bourguignon, 37, who made Sundays and Cybèle, turned himself loose on that old prop, the American desert. His stunning sweep of distance and nuance of color amount to a rediscovery of America, and...

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