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In "Quantum Cowboys," Yuma is the Nexus of the Multiverse
To infinity, and beyond.
For filmmaker Geoff Marslett, the nexus of all possibility doesn't just exist across our stars, as it also lives in Yuma, Arizona - at least during the age of the wild west, and for perhaps that one fragment of time and space. In his previous rotoscope animated live-action feature Mars, Geoff went into the cosmos and onto another planet to find the beginnings of new life and the burgeoning of new romance. In his currently released effort Quantum Cowboys, these things are discovered within the various multi-verses of the American desert. Mars was adorable and kind, which is exactly how I would describe Quantum Cowboys, through and through.
Mixing traditional live-action pieces with various types of animation and film formats, Quantum Cowboys is the story of two young men who go on a trip to Yuma, to determine the fate of a man thought to be dead, and if this confusion between the two is a matter of a Mandela effect scenario or something grander at play.
From here, things get a little complicated. Director Geoff Marslett isn't going for confusion or getting into anything convoluted, mind you. Quite the contrary, Quantum Cowboys is a pretty easy tale to tell and a story to follow. The complications come in the form of technical "chicken or the egg" details, and the weight of free will and decision-making. This isn't The Matrix, but these things do matter, especially since there is an architect figure watching over the events, from a command center, with a cat as his companion (a reference to Schrodinger’s Cat experiment).
On their way to Yuma and towards their destiny, the two friends make enemies with David Arquette and make a new acquaintance in the mysterious Lily Gladstone, who sparks the film with charm and lights it all up with a can't-miss presence. There's even a fun cameo from Repo Man director Alex Cox - who has directed wild westerns of his own - as a drunk priest. Animation isn't always used, but whether it is or not, Quantum Cowboys looks and feels starry nightly and colorful, imaginative to no limit.
At the start of the film, there's a line of text that reads "Observation matters because art is the only record of memories." Indeed, helping the command center overseer is a crew of camera operators, driving and walking all over the place, making remarks on how if something isn't captured in some way, it never happened. What does this say about art? What does this say about surveillance? It's the relationship between subject, artist/record, and audience that gives Quantum Cowboys' central premise some power. That premise is the time-bending creation of worlds and universes by way of butterfly effect style choices. To repeat an action, or to take the road less traveled, two friends will find out that there's more to life than either side of a coin. Sometimes, there are three. Sometimes, there's a great infinity.
It must've been difficult to write a movie that uses heavy themes without going over heads in a pretentious daze, but Geoff Marslett accomplishes just that. Quantum Cowboys, like Mars, is a story about people through and through, and is also about the simplest of all solutions to some of life's problems: there's nothing to it but to do it. In other words, the most difficult decision to make is, somehow, the easiest and best. Effortlessly human-natured, would I call this an acid western, ala drunk priest and real-world director Alex Cox? More like a coffee pot western. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. 4/5
Quantum Cowboys is currently touring the festival circuit.