Monday, December 22, 2014

The Homesman Beautifully Captures Another Time

The Homesman marks the first time I've actually enjoyed a Tommy Lee Jones directed film.
From start to finish this is a bizarre story. It's almost foreign in its perspective, but utterly believable when you consider the time. Women in the old west are rarely a part of any discussion, though when you really start to think about it, it must've been incredibly hard going. That's precisely the point this movie sets out to make... and it succeeds with gusto. Every action requires an overwhelming process that people in America today would probably just give up on. And the tumultuous nature of the seasons in the desert can lead to myriad catastrophes. Thus leading to the odd plot at hand.
The Homesman tells the story of strong-willed Mary Bee Cuddy's (Hilary Swank) journey to bring three exhausted and insane women, overwhelmed by the pioneer life, back to civilization. She is forced to enlist a criminal named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to her cause when the men of her small town prove too cowardly to help. And their trip does not prove to be an easy one.
With this film, Tommy Lee Jones shows a mastery and understanding of his craft that had been lacking in previous efforts. His perspective of the old west makes for a harrowing experience. And I still can't believe the depths this film is willing to go to in order to state its case. Hilary Swank is (and I wouldn't say this if I didn't mean it) the perfect choice for the part of Cuddy. Not only did I believe her for all of her strengths, but for her incredible levels of desperation as well. And while there is one segment of the film that simply confused me, enough of this worked. That and Marco Beltrami is a truly great composer. His music always keeps things interesting.
I love a good western, and it's been really cool to see the genre try to evolve with the times. Jones' The Homesman is perhaps the best example of the neo-western genre we have.

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