Film Review – The Homesman (2014)

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Title – The Homesman (2014)

Director – Tommy Lee Jones (The Sunset Limited)

Cast – Hilary Swank, Tommy Lee Jones, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, John Lithgow, Meryl Streep, Tim Blake Nelson, Hailee Steinfeld, William Fichtner, James Spader, Jesse Plemons

Plot – Lonely yet determined farmer Mary Bee Cuddy (Swank) volunteers for the harsh unrelenting task of transporting 3 mentally unstable women by wagon across the frontier from Nebraska to Iowa. When a chance meeting between Mary and untrustworthy claim jumper George Briggs (Jones) takes place, an alliance of sorts’ springs up that sees George agree to accompany Mary and the 3 women on their journey.

 “I ain’t perfect, but you are too bossy and too damn plain”

Review by Eddie on 17/03/2015

In a genre that now sadly remains idle a majority of the time, it’s a great joy to see grizzled industry veteran and virtual real life cowboy Tommy Lee Jones tackle Glendon Swarthout’s source novel and create one of the most fully formed and interesting Westerns of the modern age, in what is a brutally raw, violently unapologetic and hauntingly beautiful modern day tale of the Wild West unlike any other before it and with a cast of uniformly great acting turns, The Homesman is one of the year’s best films regardless of genre.

Reigniting an oft far to dormant genre, Tommy Lee Jones has here gone on with the strength he showed as director in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and created a world set in the west that seemingly takes its cues from the novels of Cormac McCarthy and the visuals of a Coen Brothers journey and moulds it into a story that is an original and intriguing take of life in the harsh confines of the west. Jones’s direction is quite faultless in the film, with wonderful help from DOP Rodrigo Prieto and composer Marco Beltrami, he truly creates some of the year’s most memorable and at times most haunting imagery. Whether it be the solemn sight of washing clothes in the open plains of the frontier, a particularly large homestead fire or a raft of wince inducing moments involving the 3 tormented women at the centre of this journey, The Homesman is filled to the brim with outstanding movie making moments that are highlighted even more so due to a surrounding of multilayered characters and fine acting turns.

Once more proving to the industry and we the audience members that she is one of the best actresses in the business, Hilary Swank delivers another award worthy turn as hardened city girl turned farmer Mary Bee Buddy who is the heart and soul of this tale. Mary Bee is a character both to be encouraged by and also saddened by and it’s easily one of the year’s most unpredictable character arcs. As good as Swank is, she is equally matched by Jones himself as lost soul ex-army man George Briggs. It’s a joy to behold Jones in what was clearly a role he relished, from dark humour, moments of stark reflection or instances of unbridled dancing happiness, Jones delivers a turn that is easily his best in years and arguable of his career. These two leads are fantastically supported by all who appear throughout The Homesman’s journey, from all three actresses locked away in the back of the wagon, brief appearances from the likes of Tim Blake Nelson, Jesse Plemons or James Spader, the ensemble of the picture are all universally great.

Not a flawless film by any stretch of the imagination, The Homesman is however without doubt an affecting and moving motion picture that tells a story of heartbreak, love, loss and all things in between in the now underused setting of the Wild West that proves to be one of the year’s most hauntingly realistic tales. The story here will take you places you never thought it would and come the touching final scene, an understanding of the great filmmaking you have just witnessed will wash over you and that is a feeling to be mightily thankful for.

4 and a half roasted pigs out of 5

19 responses to “Film Review – The Homesman (2014)

  1. Hi Eddie – It’s funny how these things work out but this is on my list to watch this week as part of a Swank double bill with You’re Not You – now I’m going to have to watch it sooner! It does look good, though, and Jones in a Western is always worth a look – great review!

  2. As a westerns fan and a fan of everyone involved here I am ashamed that I have not yet seen this. Thanks for the review. Definitely going to make an effort to track this down.

    • Hope you enjoy it like I did Jules! It is always nice to see a big budget western on our screens again and I get the feeling this one will one day be a real gem of the genre.

  3. Great to see a passionate review for this one. I really enjoyed this quite a lot, TLJ was as per usual, a delight and I even managed to like Hilary Swank this time.

  4. Good review Eddie. It’s a very strange movie at times, but the performances kept it smart and somewhat insightful. Even if that insight was quite disturbing and sad.

  5. I liked the look of this. Looked very interesting and different to your typical western. I was kind of put off by a lot of unenthusiastic reviews though… based on your opinion I’m definitely going to give it a watch!

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