Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Homesman

Director: Tommy Lee Jones
With: Hilary Swank, Tommy Lee Jones, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, Hailee Steinfeld, William Fichtner, Meryl Streep

Set during the American frontier, a religious woman Mary Bee Cuddie made a deal with a claim jumper on the brink of his death, to help her transport three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa.

Hilary Swank hasn't been in the awards circuit ever since what? 2010 for Conviction? And that was a surprising SAG nod for that matter. This year, there might be an improvement or should I say a comeback, in her career as her work in The Homesman as Mary Bee Cuddie is terrific, portraying a bossy and independent woman whose longingness for love and settlement is one of a kind. She brought epicness to this character that despite being unappealing and a little comical, she shifted the audience's gear from detached to sympathetic. Tommy Lee Jones' George Briggs is similarly endearing. Both characters are not the most congenial character you'll see, but it's impossible not to be touched by them at the end of the movie.

It's not only their character that's compelling, but it's their relationship that struck me the most. We've seen contrasting characters before that end up being nice together but this one's pretty different as the Western era factors in their condition and relationship. Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter played the 'three insane women' and despite not having dialogues, they effectively depicted their roles with such poignancy.

Feminism is a huge theme in The Homesman. The characters of Mary Bee, the three insane women, and Tabitha played by Hailee Steinfeld each showed the differences of women during the Western era. Mary Bee could not find a husband, the three crazy women became insane because of the wrongdoings of the men in their lives, and Tabitha showed how she values herself in choosing her husband. Tommy Lee Jones also showcased Briggs' personality and his relationship with Cuddie as an instrument to define how men treated women during their era, and how women should behave in order to find a man. It's a very obvious theme but the story is what matters to me because it's strikingly touching. And rarely do Western dramas interest me which leads me to ponder that I probably have seen 5 Western themed films maximum.

What I adore more about The Homesman is its cinematography and score. Marco Beltrami provided a very pleasant score for Cuddie and George's journey, that it's so far my favorite score of the year. He's on a roll as I also like his score for Snowpiercer and The Giver. I think The Homesman's only fault is its inconsistency in tone, but it's pretty much easy to ignore because it's really beautiful and affecting.

As one of the films I anticipated early this year, The Homesman didn't disappoint. For a Western Drama, it's certainly likable but it's seldom for me to love films from a foreign period or era, so I'm not really wow'd by the film. The story however, added with Swank and Tommy Lee Jones's craft, made this film good, shocking and sentimental overall.