Review of "The Homesman (DVD)"

published 24/04/2016 | catsholiday
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We were travelling but now back so normal service resumed.Thank you anyone who is kind enough to read then rate my reviews, especially those Es.
Pro Great acting, different story and stunning scenery
Cons Quite depressing and emotionally upsetting
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"The Homesman - a road trip with a difference"

~~~~~~ THE HOMESMAN ~~~~~~

This was one of a number of films we picked from Amazon Prime a few weeks ago as it sounded a bit different from the synopsis.

~~~~~~~ FILM FACTS ~~~~~~~

GENRE: Western drama


TUNNING LENGTH: 2 hours 2 minutes


DIRECTOR: Tommy Lee Jones

WRITERS: Tommy Lee Jones, Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley A. Oliver (screenplay)

STARING: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer

Based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout

~~~~~~~THE STORY ~~~~~~~~~

Mary Bee Cuddy ( Hilary Swank) is a rather pious hardworking single lady, tougher than most men. In a meeting at the local church she volunteers to take three women across the country where no men would go.

She is on her way with these three women, some tied up because they were so violent when she finds a man hanging from a tree sitting on his horse and she cuts him down. This low-life drifter George Briggs ( Tommy Lee Jones ) she then convinces to accompany her with a bribe of money at the other end of their journey which she posts to ensure that he sticks to the bargain.

On the way they are confronted with ‘injuns’ and various other challenges that would defeat most men but between them they carry on and the women become calmer and able to continue the journey without being tied up or howling which must have been a relief to the two leading the group!

~~~~~~~ MY VIEWS ~~~~~~~~~~

I can’t really decide what I feel about the film. The scenery was stunning and the story certainly was very different from the usual bland remakes.

The acting cannot be faulted. Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones play the main roles and both are just spot on. Tommy Lee Jones is irascible and totally selfish, grubby and yet has a certain charm that develops as the relationship between the two of them changes during the journey.

Hilary Swank plays the role of a rather pious, superior woman and yet tough, tougher than many of the men out West at the time. Her rather softer and vulnerable side shows as the journey continues and I found that very poignant. At the start of the film she is entertaining a local man and he rather unkindly answers her suggestion that they get married with ; “Miss Cuddy, I appreciate the offer, and the supper, the concert and all. But I cannot marry you. Will not, won't. I ain't perfect, but you are too bossy. And too damn plain!” He was no handsome fellow either in my view.

The three women who play the ‘mad’ three being taken back to civilisation are all brilliant. Miranda Otto plays Theoline Belknap, Sonja Richter plays Gro Svendsen while Grace Gummer is Arabella Sours.

Interestingly Grace Gummer, is in her first major film role and is the daughter of Meryl Streep, who has a supporting role in the film. I think we might be seeing a lot more of Grace Gummer in future. She plays the mostly mute but vacantly animated Arabella so perfectly in a beautiful, yet understated performance that has feels so real.

They are all pretty convincing in their ‘madness’ which took on different forms in each of them. Three women are insane and sometimes scream and fight one another. One of them tries to assault and bite other people. Their behaviour is unpredictable and at times wild and disturbing. Madness is a strong presence during the entire movie and there are some very disturbing scenes such as a bay being thrown down a toilet!

I found the story quite disturbing and the whole film left me feeling quite emotionally drained. It certainly isn’t a film to watch if you want something uplifting.

They certainly had it tough and you cannot help but admire the strength of character of those pioneering folk. When they notice they are being encircled by the Indians. Cuddy asked Briggs “What do they want?” He answers; “ Whatever we got. If they think we're worth the trouble, we're dead. Something happens to me, you get in the wagon. You shoot the women in the head then shoot yourself.”

The film was shot in various locations including Rio Arriba County, San Miguel County, Oikay Owinger Pueblo and Santa Fe County all in New Mexico, USA and Lumpkin, Georgia, USA (Westville). The scenery was all stunning, just as you imagine the West was back in the time when the movement westwards was taking place. It was wild, beautiful and unforgiving.

The music was fitting to the film and Hilary Swank sings a couple of the songs, ‘Rosalie The Prairie Flower’ and ‘Take Thee This Token’ while Tommy Lee Jones performs ‘Weevily Wheat’ !

If you are being really picky there are plot holes and geographical errors but on the whole the film is classy and the story well told if somewhat dark and depressing.
They didn’t seem to know what time of year they were telling the story as initially tgey said it was May 4th when Cuddy was chosen to take the women and she was to be back by July 4th. However on the journey they have snowfall and they talk of being cold then a little later they are all bathing in the river and apparently not feeling the cold!

The film won various awards from smaller places such as Western Film critics award and state film awards but no Oscars or other big ones.

~~~~~~~ WHAT THE CRITICS SAID ~~~~~~~~~

It gets a score of 68 from Metracritic.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw:
“Tommy Lee Jones shows some true storytelling grit in this superbly watchable frontier western; he has a muscular and confident command of narrative, driving the plot onward with a real whip-crack, and easily handles the tonal swings between brutal shock, black comedy and sentimentality.” ,Jordan Hoffman
“The Homesman certainly wins a few points for trying a different type of Western. There are no greedy land barons and no gunslingers drawin' at high noon. But being unique isn't enough if the story remains uneven and the characters don't feel real.”

~~~~~~~~RECOMMENDED? ~~~~~~~~~

Yes I would say this is a pretty unusual film. It is not really a Western but more a human story of hope and love for other people. The fact that Cuddy is prepared to take on the challenge of a journey that would see her facing as Briggs describes it ;
“You're gonna meet three kinds of people out here. You're gonna meet wagon trains that don't want to see crazy people. You're gonna meet freighters who will surely rape you. And you're gonna meet Indians who will kill you, and then rape you after they kill me.”

Yet she herself really only wants to be loved and cared for and the tough exterior hides a warmth and depth of character that others seem not to notice.
I think it is worth seeing as the acting is fantastic and the story very different.

Thanks for reading.
24th April 2016

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This review was read 261 times and was rated at
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Comments on this review

  • jb0077 published 27/04/2016
    An E from me, a top review.
  • Nar2 published 25/04/2016
    Now this is one I have seen! Well reviewed and top info
  • euphie published 25/04/2016
    e :o)
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Product Information : The Homesman (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Jones, Tommy Lee

DVD Region: DVD

Video Category: Feature Film

Director(s) (Last name, First name): Jones, Tommy Lee

Actor(s): Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Miranda Otto, John Lithgow, Hailee Steinfeld, Meryl Streep

Classification: 15 years and over

Production Year: 2014

EAN: 5030305518615


Listed on Ciao since: 28/02/2016