The Homesman

The Homesman is such a deeply pessimistic work that I’ll be surprised if it becomes a popular success. American spectators rarely go for movies about failure (which might explain why the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, despite being one of the best-reviewed movies of last year, never caught on with the mainstream), and The Homesman confronts that subject in virtually every scene. The film opens with a despairing portrait of American frontier life in the 1850s, introducing us to a small farming settlement that’s been ravaged by disease and crop failure. Three women in the town have gone mad after a particularly devastating year (one has lost all three of her children to diphtheria in months), and the townspeople decide that someone should take them to a sanitarium back east. The task falls on a headstrong spinster named Mary Bee Cuddy (Hillary Swank), who then recruits a drunken loner (Tommy Lee Jones) to help after none of the men in town offer assistance. Continue reading >>