Meek's Cutoff is a 2010 western film directed by Kelly Reichardt. The film was shown in competition at the 67th Venice International Film Festival. The story is based on a historical incident on the Oregon Trail in 1845, in which frontier guide Stephen Meek led a wagon train on an ill-fated journey through the Oregon desert to find the route known as the Meek Cutoff.
In 1845, a small band of settlers traveling across the Oregon High Desert suspect their guide, Stephen Meek, may not actually know where he is going. What was supposed to be a two-week journey has stretched into five. With no end in sight, tensions rise as water becomes increasingly scarce and supplies run low. The wives look on as the husbands discuss what to do, unable to participate in the decision making. The dynamics of power begins to shift when they capture a lone Indian and hold him captive so he may lead them to water. Questions plague the settlers as they press on with dwindling resources: Should they trust Meek? Will the Indian lead them to water or a trap? Are there others following them? How much longer can they survive?
The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants must face the scourges of hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in each other's instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as the natural enemy.
Michelle Williams ... Emily Tetherow
Bruce Greenwood ... Stephen Meek
Will Patton ... Soloman Tetherow
Zoe Kazan ... Millie Gately
Paul Dano ... Thomas Gately
Shirley Henderson ... Glory White
Neal Huff ... William White
Tommy Nelson ... Jimmy White
Rod Rondeaux ... The Indian
Directed by Kelly Reichardt
Produced by Elizabeth Cuthrell
Written by Jonathan Raymond