Friday, February 20, 2015

Overlooked winner: Tommy Lee Jones' THE HOMESMAN, now on Blu-ray, DVD & digital

THE HOMESMAN is the fourth film that Tommy Lee Jones has directed -- two for the home screen (The Sunset Limited and The Good Old Boys) and two for theatrical release (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and this new one). As well as being a first-class actor who can handle both comedy and drama, Jones continues to grow as a filmmaker. The Homesman is such a fine and intelligent piece of work on so many levels that it constitutes a "don't miss" effort --
which many of us unfortunately did.

The story -- of a trek from Nebraska to Iowa a century or so ago by a young woman and the maybe-not-so-trustworthy man she recruits to help as they take three women from her town, all gone mad due to the severity of the region in which they live and what they have had to endure there -- is a very good one (from that generally excellent late writer Glendon Swarthout). Even better is the manner in which Mr. Jones (above, right) -- as director, co-writer (with Wesley A. Oliver and Kieran Fitzgerald) and leading actor -- has managed it.

He has cast his film about as well as you could imagine or want, with Hilary Swank giving one of her best performances as the woman in charge -- and actors the likes of James Spader, Meryl StreepTim Blake Nelson (above, left) and William Fichtner in small but choice supporting roles. The three mad women are played quite specifically and well by Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter.

The movie is drained of sentimentality but never of humanity, and this becomes its great strength. It is also quite beautiful to view, with fine cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto. The sense you have of time and place is always correct, while the behavior of every character on view seems believable, if sometimes wanting. The movie is really a one-of-a-kind in so many ways that you'd be foolish to let it pass you by. It's available now on DVD and Blu-ray and probably streaming via several of the usual sources.

No comments: