Unable to cope with his infertility and the monotony of a dead-end job, Murray becomes withdrawn from his relationship and grows obsessed with a strange Western that comes on television late at night – which only he can see.
Off into the sunset rides Murray Blanks...in his blue Hyundai.
Cinema detail page
Unable to cope with his infertility and the monotony of a dead-end job, Murray becomes withdrawn from his relationship and grows obsessed with a strange Western that comes on television late at night – which only he can see. This movie, which only appears in fragments and seems centered around an elusive stranger seeking revenge, captivates Murray immediately - something about its strangeness and elusive main character deeply resonates with him. Murray's romantic perceptions of the Western lifestyle seem to embody everything that is lacking from his life - and he feels that it's calling out to him. The more his home life frustrates and alienates him, the more this world of gun-slinging and vast landscapes seduces him.
With the fifth film I have seen of his, Edgar Muniz continues to impress me with the differing ways he explores a relatively simple theme—the dissatisfaction people feel in their own lives, and the sometimes self-destructive ways they deal with it. In the film of his I screened earlier this year, “From the Heart of the Crowd,” it was an author who was having difficulties writing, and dealing with the emotions that brought on. In “The Never Daunted,” quite possibly his best film yet, Muniz looks at a man (Murray, played by Nicholas Null) who is struggling with daily stresses such as his job and his home life, especially when he and his wife have trouble getting pregnant.
One night, he is up late, and he finds himself watching a Western on TV. It’s a bizarre film, but it begins to effect him emotionally. The catch is…only he can see this film. And when he does, it’s fragments only, rather than the whole thing. However, what he sees taps into his own insecurities about life. That doesn’t make it less unsettling, however, especially as his marriage begins to implode. And yet, he cannot stop watching, and it draws him into a life that seems particularly appealing to him now.
On this film, Muniz goes the Robert Rodriguez route of filmmaking, by acting as his own cinematographer, camera operator, and editor, along with his usual duties as writer-director. His work is inspired, especially so soon after seeing another terrific writer-director (Quentin Tarantino) do such an interesting riff on Western conventions with “Django Unchained.” The fact that the film is set in the modern world makes Muniz’s vision of the Old West that much more intriguing, and it makes me hope a full-fledged Western is in his future.
Where Murray’s emotional journey takes him leads to one of the most surreal, and original, finales of any movie I’ve seen this year. Null is superb in a difficult, largely dialogue-free, role. Rather than narrative driven by words, Muniz uses images, and the sight of Null’s face as he gradually disappears into his own fantasy world is one of the most lasting images in a cinematic year that has thrived on powerful visuals that blend both the intimate and epic. I can’t wait to see what this exciting writer-director has in store for us in the future.
As seems to always be true with a Muñiz film, atmosphere is everything and The Never Daunted features atmosphere in abundance by somehow creating the western world, a truly monotonous office setting and a home dwelling that feels both intimate and unsettling.