Tommy Lee Jones is known mainly as a successful Hollywood actor, but he has just finished directing and co-writing his second movie, an excellent western called “The Homesman.”
This movie is a powerful, realistic film about the hardship and deprivation of life on the plains of Nebraska in the 1850's.
Hilary Swank stars as Mary Bee Cuddy, a pious, upright pioneer woman who lives alone on a farm and has to be tough just to survive. Jones himself co-stars as George Briggs, a crusty, low life who steals another man's mining claim and is caught and left to die by the man's friends. When Mary Bee happens by, Briggs is sitting on a horse with his hands tied behind his back and his neck in a noose tied to the branch of the tree over his head.
Briggs: Are you an angel?
Cuddy: You're not dead.
Briggs: Help me.
Cuddy: If I cut you down, will you do what I tell you to?
Briggs: Hell, yes. I will. Anything!
Cuddy: I got a job of work for you.
The West these two live in is a harsh place, especially for women. And when three women in the area literally lose their minds after the deaths of people they love, Mary Bee volunteers to take them back to where they came from in Iowa.
Briggs: Three crazy women for five weeks is a lot more than I bargained for.
Cuddy: If you lied to me and intend on abandoning your responsibility, then you are a man of low character.
Briggs: You're no prize yourself. You're plain as an old tin pan pail and you're bossy.
It's an antagonistic relationship born of necessity, but they start out on their cold, dangerous journey with the three women locked in a wagon. The only reason Briggs is along is to collect $300 Mary Bee has promised him at its end.
It's soon clear that this is a trip they may not survive. Half a dozen Indians approach their wagon.
Cuddy: What do they want?
Briggs: Whatever we've got. If they think we're worth the trouble, we're dead.
Cuddy: If something happens to me, get in the wagon, quick as you can, shoot the women in the head and then shoot yourself.
“The Homesman” isn't an uplifting movie. Instead, it's a sobering film about the desperate lives of the old west pioneers who suffered all manner of hardship and deprivation. But it's so well done, you'll likely come away with a real appreciation of its authenticity.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org