The Homesman


The Homesman

Critics Consensus

A squarely traditional yet somewhat progressive Western, The Homesman adds another absorbing entry to Tommy Lee Jones' directorial résumé.



Reviews Counted: 148

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,179


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.2/5

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Movie Info

When three women living on the edge of the American frontier are driven mad by harsh pioneer life, the task of saving them falls to the pious, independent-minded Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank). Transporting the women by covered wagon to Iowa, she soon realizes just how daunting the journey will be, and employs a low-life drifter, George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), to join her. The unlikely pair and the three women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter) head east, where a waiting minister and his wife (Meryl Streep) have offered to take the women in. But the group first must traverse the harsh Nebraska Territories marked by stark beauty, psychological peril and constant threat. (C) Roadside Entertainment

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Tommy Lee Jones
as George Briggs
Hilary Swank
as Mary Bee Cuddy
Meryl Streep
as Altha Carter
Grace Gummer
as Arabella Sours
Miranda Otto
as Theoline Belknap
Sonja Richter
as Gro Svendsen
John Lithgow
as Reverend Alfred Dowd
Hailee Steinfeld
as Tabitha Hutchinson
James Spader
as Aloysius Duffy
Jo Harvey Allen
as Mrs. Polhemus
Barry Corbin
as Buster Shaver
David Dencik
as Thor Svendsen
William Fichtner
as Vester Belknap
Evan Jones
as Bob Giffen
Tim Blake Nelson
as The Freighter
Jesse Plemons
as Garn Sours
Karen Jones
as Mrs. Linens
Martin Palmer
as Vigilante #2
Jerry Vahn Knight
as Vigilante #3
Adrian Doerfler
as Vigilante #4
Lela Rose Allen
as Belknap Daughter #1
Sachie Capitani
as Belknap Daughter #2
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News & Interviews for The Homesman

Critic Reviews for The Homesman

All Critics (148) | Top Critics (42)

  • Parts of The Homesman are a slog to sit through, but the movie ends on a note of absurd comedy that also breaks your heart, suggesting that some people, no matter the circumstances, are incapable of change.

    Dec 6, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • If only things had started out on more solid ground and headed toward some sort of resolution. If only.

    Dec 5, 2014 | Rating: C | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Nov 28, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Swank and Streep are big stars with famous faces, and yet disappear into their roles; these characters convey both quiet strength and gentle kindness.

    Nov 28, 2014 | Rating: 3/4
  • 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.

    Nov 26, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The film is a tonal nightmare, lurching uneasily from hang-'em and shoot-'em cowboy comedy to gruesome vignettes from the lives of frontier women.

    Nov 21, 2014 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Homesman


It is sad to see a film begin so well, relying on stunning visuals and an impressive performance by Swank, and then go downhill in a second half that suffers from some serious problems of tone and does itself a great disservice by abruptly shifting the lead role from her to Jones.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

"The Homesman" is a remarkable western delving into numerous social issues all but ignored by other films of the genre (such as the role of marriage, the church's role in society, women's role in society, and social standing). Very good acting by all players and skilled directing by Jones make this nearly action-free film well worth seeing.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

The Homesman is a thoroughly depressing experience with little energy. The idea of throwing a feminist and a curmudgeon on a road trip is inspired. But our central duo are not nearly engaging as they should be. It's mostly forgettable except for a few amusing moments. Out of the blue a grizzled Tommy Lee Jones gets up and dances a zesty jig while singing by the campfire. In another scene, he torches a hotel in a spiteful rage and that got my pulse quickening a bit. Oh James Spader's pompous hotelier is another high point in a production that usually operates a constant low. The story is inert. To make matters worse, a late dramatic development just happens abruptly. The perplexing act ostensibly motivated by religious guilt. The script is frustratingly cloudy on that point and when the chronicle isn't vague, it's just dull.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

Marry Bee Cuddy: Come on, girls. How grim is too grim and when does it just start becoming a little humorous? Earlier this year we had a novel idea for a film in the form of A Million Ways to Die in the West. That film did not work for me overall, but the idea of making a western film that put emphasis on how terrible a time it could really be was a funny one. Tommy Lee Jones' second directorial effort, The Homesman, based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout, is a film that sits in grim territory, but pushes things so far that it becomes a strange sort of dark comedy. The film has a large cast of great actors, but they all provide merely decent to good performances. Hilary Swank stands out, but that makes sense, given that she does most of the heavy-lifting, with strong support from Jones to back her up. Really, the film seems confused by how sprawling it could be versus how effectively poignant it may be if the film felt a bit more consistent. The good news is, this film is far too interesting to write off. read the whole review at

Aaron Neuwirth
Aaron Neuwirth

Super Reviewer

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