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"Set in 1854 in the harsh Nebraska frontier, a low-life drifter George Briggs (Oscar-Winner Tommy Lee Jones) is rescued by a pious, independent-minded woman named Mary Bee Cuddy (Oscar-Winner Hilary Swank).
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Superior movie-making, superior acting, superior script all add up to an emotionally moving film. This is a unique adult picture that will not appeal to anyone who prefers comfort for the mind with easy predictability. But if quality movies and quality literature are your cup of tea, I suggest that you not miss this memorable film. After more than a year I still find myself somewhat haunted by it. You won't find anything else like it as it explores the emotional needs of the human heart.
While the acting is truly excellent, the story itself is dark and depressing, I think. Things that happen are not expected, and the ending was totally not what I wanted it to be. The two stars are great in the movie, however. I lived in Nebraska for nine years, and I can see how women on the prairie in those days could easily go insane. Lacking close-enough neighbors, the society of other women, and the problem of menfolk who had to work, work, work with little time for their wives and children drove many wives to desperate acts. Life was hard, and this novel and movie show it like it was. I think people should watch this movie just to learn about life back then on the prairie. It's educational.
THIS HAS A SPOILER ALERT! This movie was a little quirky from the start - but a good quirky. When the 2 main characters finally started to get to know each other, have more interaction and talk to each other, I got my hopes up that each of them finally found the person they needed in their lives. She needed someone to help her on her farm with the plantings, crops, animals and just having a man around in a rough environment. He needed someone to get him to settle down instead of always on the move, travelling and no steady income. He needed someone to kind of smooth down his rough edges. When they were intimate it was an odd thing and I couldn't see how it would work out, but then the next morning when he found her dead from suicide was just not how I thought it would go in any scenario. I was shocked, kind of heart-broken and sad because I thought it could have worked out so differently. The movie carried on and was really good too. I loved the part where the women he was transporting all followed him (I think because they knew, even with their mental problems, he was safe and would care for them). It was one of those movies that I wonder if things could have worked out differently. I think that's a good thing because it means I got immersed enough in the characters and their lives to want things to work out for them.
When I read that the late, great novelist Glendon Swarthout's The Homesman was being made into a movie I got excited, but wondered if Hollywood would somehow soften this tough, realistic story about the struggles many women faced in the Western frontier in the 1800s.
To my great surprise and delight, Tommy Lee Jones, who I believed directed this masterpiece, did not. In fact, this hardcore western literature stayed true to the gritty novel.
Both Jones and Hillary Swank became the characters in the book, which were both powerful and deeply disturbing in many ways. This is not a feel good movie. It deals with the realities women faced when they were taken into a wild, barren frontier.
If there is a hero in this movie, it is Swank, who ends up taking up the slack for disillusioned and cowardly men.
Jones is an anti-hero that is so real, you walk away shaking your head in amazement and disgust.
Without revealing too much of the plot, the story revolves around Swank and Jones charged with taking back to civilization a group of pioneer woman, who have lost their minds from the hardships they had endured, such as one woman losing all of her children to sickness. The story is sad, compelling and at the same time shows the true grit these people were made of.
It is not a feel good movie with a happy ending, but it is a cautionary tale made from the blood, sweat and tears of pioneers. I loved it. It deserved five stars in my opinion, even though it did poorly at the box office. It is a movie that I am thankful was made.
Very good movie and not your normal western. This movie is very different, it makes you wonder how woman of this time period could survive in these conditions. And of course some couldn't, which is the subject matter. I've driven through this land in modern day in the comfort of my motor home, never thinking about what it would be like to try and survive there in the mid 1800's. You drive for miles and and miles and see nothing but rolling hills and flat barren land, no farms, trees, water or people. I can't imagine what it would be like to try and survive there as a woman. This movie provides you with an example of that hardship. It is not a western it's a story of survival. I thought Hilary Swank was fantastic and gave an academy award winning performance as a single prosperous farming woman who took on the job of returning three women back to their homes in the east, after they had lost their minds to the harshness of living in Nebraska. Tommy Lee Jones was, as usual, great in his role as the man she hires to help her with this task. More of an historical type movie than the normal shoot'em up western.
Reviewed in the United States on November 30, 2017
I truly expected more from this film. For all of the accomplished actors & actresses in this movie, it was surely a disappointment as far as the story and characters development went. The greatest disappointment (spoiler alert) is that that the Mary Bee Cuddy character hangs herself after sleeping with Briggs. Based on the earlier character development, this seems totally inconsistent with the strong, independent, determined woman she was. Also, it seemed that either the script was lacking or the length of the movie did not allow for the proper development of several of the key characters, such as Briggs, the three women, Tabitha Hutchinson, etc. and the relationship between them.
4.0 out of 5 starsMoving, emotionally involved film. Recommended.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 10, 2016
Some of the inane, ignorant reviews I have just read about this movie, given 1* cannot in my opinion be justified. Every watcher of television or cinema has his or her opinion and a right to that but when I read some of the comments made I feel a sense of incredulity. The films two central characters are George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) and Mary Bee Cuddy(Hilary Swank). She is a respected,young woman living alone on the land. He is something of a rogue.She is strong and forthright and accepts responsibility to take 3 women who have had breakdowns to the home of a Pastor and his wife(Meryl Streep) who has expressed a wish to care for them. The journey is long, arduous and has many high and low points. Cuddy is all careing of the women and Briggs cannot wait to receive his promised 300 dollars from Swank for helping with the delivery.The scenery is shot beautifully, the locations and wardrobe excellent. It's hard to imagine HOW these people really survived in 1850's America? The 'supporting' cast includes John Lithgow, with Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter and Grace Gummer playing the parts of the 3 women.James Spader and veteran actor William Fichtner also have credible roles.A good set of extras also on the disc. It is debated on the extras IF the genre of the film makes it a 'Western' and I think that simply because there are not shootouts every minute, Indians attacking doesn't detract from the movies Honesty.
4.0 out of 5 starsBleak and unforgiving - in a good way.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2016
The Homesman is bleak and at times unforgiving. The storyline is quite unusual with some rather unexpected detours. Swank and Jones are particularly good in the leading roles. Lovely filmed, The Homesman comes recommended. Supplements: - Origins (1080p; 21:25) deals with elements like fashioning the screenplay and offers some decent interviews. - Shooting the Film (1080p; 27:13) looks at some of the rigors of shooting the film on location (actually, more than one location). - Beyond the Western (1080p; 11:45) details the efforts of this film to push the genre boundaries of the western.
TLJ: Awesome acting. He is so saturated in his role and plays it so well. It is a sad film, and a strange sorry but one I would think happened many times. Brief appearances from various well known actors and actresses. Really recommend. Loved it, and for someone who is a Action and Scifi Junky... need i say more.
The Homesman has a long way to travel and passes through Violence, Sentiment and Grim Realism as if Cormac McCarthy was doing The Little House On The Prairie. Set predominantly in Sodbuster country we encounter a wide range of weathers and strangers. There is one splendidly horrible moment of surprise that sets up the remainder of the film with its mixture of sad, mad and bad. I found it a little slow going. It is also not over-endowed with likeable characters.
I am an admirer of Tommy Lee Jones' work but, dare I say it, he does not quite hang together for me in this movie. All the ingredients are here and there are strong performances all round except it does not quite work at times and the Meryl Streep cameo really lets it down at the end.