9 January 2015 | Hellmant
It's a hard film to watch, at times, but definitely worth it.
'THE HOMESMAN': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
Tommy Lee Jones directed, co-wrote and stars in this western/drama film (set in the 1850s midwest) about a 'spinster' and a 'drifter' transporting three women, driven mad by the hardships of the time, across the country. It costars Hilary Swank, Miranda Otto, Grace Gummer and Sonja Richter. It also features cameos by Meryl Streep, John Lithgow, James Spader, Tim Blake Nelson, William Fichtner and Hailee Steinfeld. The film was written by Jones, Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley Oliver and it's based on the 1988 novel, of the same name, by Glendon Swarthout. French filmmaker Luc Besson served as a producer of the movie and it also features a breathtaking music score by Marco Beltrami. It's surprisingly dark, and extremely disturbing, but I enjoyed it due to it's strong character development, outstanding performances and odd beauty.
Swank plays Mary Bee Cuddy, a strong and independent 31-year-old woman from New York. She desperately wants to find a husband but can't, due to men finding her too plain looking (I don't think Swank looks bad at all in this movie, considering the film's time and setting). When the local reverend (Lithgow) asks for someone to transport three women across the country, to a church in Hebron Iowa, Cuddy volunteers. The women (Otto, Gummer and Richter) are all mentally ill and the church will provide the special help they need. Cuddy comes across a drifter named George Briggs (Jones), who's about to be lynched for 'claim jumping', and asks him for his help (in return for saving his life). The two make the long journey together and form an odd bond.
The movie has been called a 'feminist western', by many, and I'd definitely agree it's a strong female character study, about the hardships women faced at the time. Swank is outstanding in the co- lead and Jones is just as classic and tough as ever; he does (unintentionally I think) steal some of the female cast's thunder. Jones also proves he's an equally talented director (once again) and the movie is full of beautiful visuals, as well as haunting imagery. For me the highlight of the film is the beautiful music and the touching relationships formed by the movie's central characters (it also has a shocking and unexpected twist, at the end of the second act). It's a hard film to watch, at times, but definitely worth it; if you're a fan of the genre or even if you're not.
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