Review of "The Homesman (DVD)"

published 13/06/2017 | thedevilinme
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Pro Good western
Cons Bit long
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"Hollywood still makes decent westerns ..."

The Homesman (DVD)

The Homesman (DVD)

Star – Tommy Lee Jones
Genre – Western
Run Time – 122 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Awards – 6 Wins & 14 Nominations
Amazon – £3.00 DVD £4.73 Blue Ray
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I have seen a few westerns of late and they have all been rather good, this one no exception. Apart from the Comic book stuff it’s the only genre that is still consistently rolling out good stuff in Hollywood. Maybe because of its history in shaping the movies they respect the Western that little bit more. In fact I can’t recall when I have seen bad one and that’s all budgets and styles. .As long as you cast them well and stick to the winning formula the money seems to roll in.

The cast here includes three Oscar winners: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, and Meryl Streep; and two Oscar nominees: John Lithgow and Hailee Steinfeld. Tommy Lee Jones in a western is like Robert Duvall in western. These guys were made for it. It’s also the debut of Grace Gummer in her first major film role, Meryl Streep being her mother. How can you not like that line up?


Tommy Lee Jones ... George Briggs
Hilary Swank ... Mary Bee Cuddy
Grace Gummer ... Arabella Sours
Miranda Otto ... Theoline Belknap
Sonja Richter ... Gro Svendsen
Jo Harvey Allen ... Mrs. Polhemus
Barry Corbin ... Buster Shaver
David Dencik ... Thor Svendsen
William Fichtner ... Vester Belknap
Evan Jones ... Bob Giffen
Caroline Lagerfelt ... Netti Svendsen
John Lithgow ... Reverend Alfred Dowd
Tim Blake Nelson ... Freighter
Jesse Plemons ... Garn Sours
James Spader ... Aloysius Duffy


Its 1888 and the troublesome George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) has wronged again and a lynch mob are out for him. All alone with a noose around his neck he is rescued at the last by feisty independent Nebraskan farmsteader Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), who is about to take three slightly bonkers women cross country to salvation in Hebron, Iowa where a religious order sanitarium await her arrival. There and then she makes a deal with Briggs that she will cut him down and pay him $300 dollars on top of that gesture if he will guide her and a secure wagon to the safe haven of Hebron.

After a harsh winter, three women from the community began to show signs of mental instability due to the hardships. Arabella Sours (Grace Gummer) has lost three children to diphtheria, Theoline Belknap (Miranda Otto) kills her own child after a poor harvest puts her family at risk of starvation, and Gro Svendsen (Sonja Richter), a Danish immigrant, is shown to be in an abusive relationship with her husband and suffers a breakdown after her mother dies. Reverend Dowd (John Lithgow) calls for the husbands to escort the women eastward to Hebron but they either can’t wait to get shot of the women or simply not up to the task, why Cuddy has to take charge and hire Briggs as the Honesman.

And so off the two go with the women secured in the carriage. One or two are volatile so must be chained down as they wail and holler for the first days of the trip. Cuddy also has issues with depression and melancholy and so the trip not much fun with the lugubrious Briggs holding the reigns. But he knows the wild country and done this before so the right man to have by her side. They are likely to face Red Indians, bandits, disease, weather and shortages of water and food, amongst other perils.

As they press on the two grow slightly closer and the women improve to. The adventure, fresh air and open spaces seem to be doing them well. Cuddy insures Briggs stays the course by posting his $300 dollars to the destination post office but also looking for something for herself from the trip. She is an impressive gal and growing on the honesman. But can they put aside their differences to complete the arduous trip?


I enjoyed this and yet another western with a different tone knocking around on DVD. Its excellent cast and arid landscapes set the mood quickly as we explore the harsh lives of the early settlers, often out in the middle of nowhere and live and die on their harvest. Loneliness and so depression and mental illness was rampant.

Meryl Streep only cameos at the end so not a movie to enjoy her but Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank really on top form as the belligerent Wild West survivors, comedy and pathos aplenty. I’m never sure if Swank is pretty or not and so hard to interpret in movie roles but TLJ is great in Billy Bob Thornton mode. They light up the screen with their to-and-throw.

Entertaining wise it always stays engaging because of its more abstract Western themes and more than a feminist streak her from a female directed film. The men are generally all violent and sexist and the girls the victims. I guess it was like that back then. A skilled director can make their points on that by not being so polarizing.

As I say it’s a good ride for two hours and not too violent or cheesy western. Some critics say it tells the story of American civilization and you can kind of see that but for me just an original above average western that’s interesting, moody and engaging.
RATINGS – 6.6/10.0 (23,937votes) – 81% critic’s approval – 68% critic’s approval


Special Features

- Deleted scenes –

Not that many

-Behind the scenes-

Bits and bobs behind the scenes




Detroit News –‘If only things had started out on more solid ground and headed toward some sort of resolution. If only’.

Minneapolis Star –‘The film has more surprising turns than a honeycomb has bees. Absurdity and calamity collide without warning’.

The Mail –‘ If Tommy Lee Jones wants to become a great director of a dying genre, he cannot simply hope to mimic what the masters did. He must instead explore the meaning of each image he creates.

Kansas Star –‘The Homesman, Jones gives us a revisionist Western that defies expectations at every turn. It's a genuine art film in the vein of Aussie productions like The Proposition’.

The Star –‘It reminds us repeatedly of how fragile civilization was in the Old West’.

Chicago Reader –‘As the protagonists near their final destination, The Homesman offers a critique of civilization that's almost as pessimistic as its critique of frontier life, suggesting that in every corner of America there have always been more losers than winners.

St Louis Dispatch –‘Swank, an Oscar winner for "Boys Don't Cry" and "Million Dollar Baby," is outstanding, getting to the essence of Mary Bee's pride and pain. And in the showier role, Jones impressively peels away layers of rambunctiousness to reveal George's humanity’.

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Comments on this review

  • jo-1976 published 06/07/2017
    Not my kind of thing!
  • 1st2thebar published 03/07/2017
    Very decent write up. T L Jones has an inherited pained expression.
  • danielalong published 03/07/2017
    E x
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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


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