‘Wild Horses’ and other f ilms.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - “Wild Horses.” MPAA rat­ing: R for vi­o­lent images, lan­guage. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 43 min­utes. Play­ing: Arena Cinema, Hol­ly­wood. — Robert Abele

Now in his 80s, Academy Award-win­ning ac­tor Robert Du­vall clearly hasn’t tired of crusty cow­boy roles, hav­ing writ­ten one more for him­self in the multigenerational drama “Wild Horses,” which he also di­rected.

Du­vall plays ma­cho, big­oted Texas ranch owner Scott Briggs, look­ing for twi­light re­demp­tion with his three grown sons (in­clud­ing Josh Hart­nett), one of whom (James Franco) he kicked out 15 years prior af­ter catch­ing him in the barn in the dead of night with a male ranch hand named Jamie, who sub­se­quently van­ished.

A new in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Jamie’s dis­ap­pear­ance by a determined Texas Ranger (the star’s wife, Lu­ciana Du­vall, re­gret­tably stiff ) up­ends Briggs’ care­ful plans to leave some se­crets buried. There’s more than a whiff of John Sayles’ re­gional melo­dra­mas in the pa­tient mix of do­mes­tic tragedy, home­spun hu­mor and mys­tery.

But as comfy as Du­vall is por­tray­ing one more old man fac­ing a reckoning (shades of his mas­ter­ful “The Apos­tle”), as a sto­ry­teller and direc­tor, this time he loses the thread — and our at­ten­tion — one too many times in a sea of lack­lus­ter con­ver­sa­tions and un­re­mark­able plot strands.

The best mo­ments show­case Du­vall and Franco, for­mi­da­ble stars rep­re­sent­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tural eras, testing the wa­ters of a fa­ther-son re­la­tion­ship bruised by out­moded views of love and sin. There’s gen­uine hurt and hope in their ex­changes, but their power is di­luted by the strangely in­ef­fec­tual, me­an­der­ing movie around them.

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