There’s some lovely Montana scenery in “Mending the Line”—a title, of course, intended to convey a double meaning–and cinematographer Eva M. Cohen makes the most of it in her widescreen images.  Elsewhere her work is proficient but unremarkable, as is that of production designer Freddy Waff.  Will Torbett’s editing tends toward the sluggish, as does Caldwell’s direction—the film demands considerable patience—and Bill Brown’s score is positively syrupy.  (One sighs in relief when it goes silent.)

But the ensemble helps one get over the maudlin parts.  Heaton is rather wasted and Sasner overacts, but Studi brings some whimsical humor to Harrison.  And while Mattfeld can be stiff, Walls manages to put over even the sequence in which a visit to a buzzy bar brings on flashbacks to Afghanistan and sends him back to the bottle.

But it’s Cox who makes the decidedly calculating and predictable movie as watchable as it is.  Stardom has come late to the actor, who has long been reliable in supporting character roles as well as stunning in a few lead ones (like Michael Cuesta’s “L.I.E.,” which also provided Paul Dano with his first opportunity to shine), but better late than never.  He makes Ike Fletcher, for all his orneriness, a character you want to spend some time with, especially when he’s casting his line—and then mending it.

Read the full review here