You have to figure that the old west was not a very fun place to live in. If you have ever watched a Western, it kind of makes it look not so bad. Yeah sure you have a lot of gunfights, and unlawfulness, but it looks clean enough, even though they are surrounded by dirt everywhere. Well I don’t know if the old west was not a great place to live. It was dirty, deadly, and did I say dirty? I have always wanted to see a movie that showed the west for what it really was, and with “The Homesman” I am pretty sure I found it.
Set in a small town in Nebraska where Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) has a pretty nice set up, she has land, livestock, and big plans for the future, but what she doesn’t have is a husband. Now it hasn’t’ been from a lack of trying, as she has offered merging her homestead with another, but is a little too bossy for most. When three women go crazy, Mary Bee offers to take them to Iowa, where they can be reunited with their families. While on her way home to prepare for her trip she runs into a man named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) who has had better days since he is sitting on a horse with a noose around his neck. Mary Bee makes Briggs agree to help her escort the three women for his life and together they head back east to get these three women back home.
As you can see from the synopsis that is a pretty straightforward story, but it how the story is told is what makes it interesting. Based from the novel by Glendon Swarthout, and written for the screen by Wesley A. Oliver, Kieran Fitzgerald, and Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed the film do their best to show the west for what it truly was. Take in the performances by Jones and Swank and you have for a mighty fine movie. Where the film falters though is the explanation of why the three girls are crazy and the need for a more seasoned cast, with many top-notch actors coming and going so quickly. With a story that goes against the typical “head west and prosper” idea, instead it is heading back East that makes everything all the more interesting here. This is not a western, yeah you have horses, gun fights, and it takes place in the west, but what “The Homesman” is, is a period drama that happens to take place in the old west. This movie will not be for everyone, it can be slow, but if you stick with it, the pay off is good, because you get to see a well-made film. Tommy Lee Jones has done some questionable movies over the years, but when you want to give up on him, he comes with a gem like this. “The Homesman” looks good and has a antitypical story that will make you glad you gave it your time.