The Homesman (2014)
Critic Consensus: A squarely traditional yet somewhat progressive Western, The Homesman adds another absorbing entry to Tommy Lee Jones' directorial résumé.
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Critic Reviews for The Homesman
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.
If only things had started out on more solid ground and headed toward some sort of resolution. If only.
The film has more surprising turns than a honeycomb has bees. Absurdity and calamity collide without warning.
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.
Swank and Streep are big stars with famous faces, and yet disappear into their roles; these characters convey both quiet strength and gentle kindness.
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.
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.
"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.
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. fastfilmreviews.com
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