Starring: Hilary Swank, Tommy Lee Jones, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, John Lithgow, James Spader, William Fichtner, Evan Jones, Barry Corbin, Tim Blake Nelson, Jesse Plemons, Meryl Streep
Directed By: Tommy Lee Jones
I first became interested in The Homesman when it started getting awards attention. I saw Hilary Swank’s name pop up as being a likely candidate for Best Actress, and Tommy Lee Jones as potential for Best Supporting Actor. Well, I have some thoughts about that…
First off, Jones is really more of a candidate for Best Actor, considering he dominates the screentime in the film (eventually surpassing Swank, I believe). Calling him Supporting is copping out. Sure, this film is kind of about Swank’s character, but the film shifts midway and is no longer about her character. That brings me to my second point which is while this is a fine performance from both actors, neither are delivering their best performances, nor are they delivering either of the best performances of the year. Swank is her own worst enemy, because she’s had such great performances in the past in Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don’t Cry that this seems almost beneath her. Jones is good at playing a grizzled western type, but I can’t say this is a stand out performance for him either.
The film itself starts out weak, and a little bizarre. It takes a minute for the plot to really sink in, and even longer for the film to really get going and for the audience to be invested in the characters and the story. Swank’s Cuddy is so damn unlikeable for the first part of the film that by the time we reach the middle of the film, it seems almost like we hardly knew her. I enjoyed the second half of the film, but I could do without most of the first half.
In the end, when the story becomes more about Jones’s Briggs and how out of place he is in “modern” society, the film finds its heart. The film isn’t about transporting three women so much as it is about two people finding out more about themselves. One makes a rather sudden decision that seems completely out of character, whereas the other has to live with those ramifications, and the idea that even though he’s one of the good guys, there is no place for him in society.
There was a good movie lodged in The Homesman, but we only got to see a snippet of it.
FINAL GRADE: B-