American cinema has been fairly thin on the ground this Cannes Film Festival. Outside of three of the out-of-competition slots taken by Robin Hood, Wall Street and the new Woody Allen, it's only Doug Liman's Fair Game in the official selection. Critics' Week and Directors' Fortnight are similarly starved.
But there are some local gems to discover in those sidebars, and it's in the latter we find Alistair Banks Griffin's Two Gates of Sleep. A stoic tale of a pair of brothers whose mother dies, it's one of the more artful films at an already incredibly artful festival, and presents a decidedly more mature side of American cinema.
Jack (Brady Corbet) and Louis (David Call) are the backwoods brothers whose steadfast commitment to their isolated life forces them to eschew the advice of the local sheriff and begin a journey on foot with their mother's coffin to take her to a specific burial site.
The brothers shun civilization and, were it not for the occasional intrusions from the modern world we'd be none the wiser about the timeframe in which the film is set. Their life, and journey, takes place in America's wilderness, and the countryside becomes a third character in the film, at turns both hero and villain.