ROCKIES HORROR SHOW
Bloody vengeance tale Tin Star offers a modern spin on the Western
AT FIRST GLANCE, Sky Atlantic’s new Western Tin Star has little in common with the 1957 Anthony Mann classic of the same name. The two have no formal connection, horses have given way to 4x4s and six-shooters to handguns. Make no mistake, though; writer-director Rowan Joffe (Before I Go To Sleep) has drawn from the same dusty well with a ten-part tale of corruption and revenge high in the Canadian Rockies. It may be set in a contemporary world of corporate interests and legal restraints, but fans of the genre will detect plenty of shared DNA.
“[Rowan] has drawn from classic Westerns and thrown them right into the mix,” explains his star, Tim Roth. Roth plays Jim Worth, a workaholic London detective who’s decamped to the mountains with wife Angela (Genevieve O’reilly) and their two kids to regain control of his work/ life balance. Instead, he finds his work/bloody corpse balance spinning rapidly out of control. “Yeah, there’s a fair amount of violence in Tin
Star,” concedes Roth. “There’s a comic element, but when we do insert that [violence], you have to respect it.”
Roth’s lawman offers up that classic Western archetype: the strong, quiet gunslinger forced to confront his own past, and likely shoot a lot of people in the process. “It had an anarchy about it that I thought was fun,” says Roth. As the new sheriff in town, he finds himself battling corporate cowboys from North Star Oil, a company — represented by Christina Hendricks’ sinister PR boss, Mrs Bradshaw — which dominates the town.
Joffe, who revisited another classic crime genre with his 2010 re-adaptation of Brighton
Rock, isn’t merely retreading familiar Western beats. “I wanted to tell an undercover cop story that was quintessentially British and realistic,” says Joffe. “I loved the idea of Roth’s victim becoming the avenger, to the point where you can no longer tell who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy.”
There’s a new sheriff in town, in other words, and he may turn out to be as dangerous as any of the black hats. If Joffe succeeds in mixing classic Western tropes with modern, complex characters (notably Worth himself, who proves to have a
seriously dark side), that may prove to be an understatement. What Tin Star lacks in horses and oats, it makes up for in brutal violence. TIN STAR IS ON SKY ATLANTIC SOON
Above: Former detective Jim Worth (Tim Roth) finds his retirement plans have, er, changed.
Here: Christina Hendricks, the PR face of North Star Oil.
Below: Beware the local young guns.