Terrific contemporary western set in the border town Frontera, Texas. Sheriff Sam Deeds (Cooper) is still dealing with the legacy of his father, legendary lawman Buddy Deeds (McConaughey) who, 40 years before, wrestled control of the town from his racist, corrupt predecessor Charlie Wade (Kristofferson) and supposedly sent him packing. But when skeletal remains and a sheriff's badge turn up on an abandoned Army rifle range, guess whose bones they turn out to be. Buddy's friends would like Sam to just leave the past lie but he can't, and learns some hard home truths. This is only one of the town's stories that Sayles gracefully tells and, as always, his ensemble cast all offer outstanding performances.
Sayles is one of the most gifted independent film makers in America today, and this is arguably his best effort. Partly detective story, partly history of the kind Faulkner did in Absolom, Absolom, the film panoramas whites, blacks, hispanics and the progression of American history in a tightly-woven tale of intrigue and suspense. Warrants half a dozen viewings.