From The Dispatch:
The problem here is the story is just not strong enough to carry the entire movie. Harris sets up the relationship between Cole and Hitch nicely, and he and Mortensen's great chemistry makes for some of the film's best moments. But there really isn't much of a story to go on, stretching it thinly over two hours and leaving the rest of the film to stand awkwardly apart. Part of this is due to some languid pacing, almost as if Harris doesn't quite know where to go next, resulting in a vaguely aimless, uneven structure. Zellweger's character and performance are also problematic, sticking out like a sore thumb that doesn't quite belong. Some would argue that this was intentional, but the character is without a doubt the film's weakest link.Click here to read my full review.
We seem to differ on whether or not the film's languid pace helps or hurts the picture. Nevertheless, you make several very good points. My review.
Matthew, did you see Broken Blossoms? If so, tell me what you thought here.
I think I read on another thread that Matthew may have picked up this film. (Broken Blossoms)
As for Appaloosa, it wasn't so much the speed of the pace that bothered me, but the fact that it felt awkward at times. There were several times where I felt that the scene transitions were a bit stilted and just didn't flow well.