Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week 105: The Homesman
I first watched The Homesman a few years ago when it played in theaters. It’s hard not to have expectations for a new film directed by Tommy Lee Jones, following the masterful Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Good Old Boys. I left disappointed, feeling they missed the mark and curious enough as to the reason why that I even picked up the book to see if they may have strayed too far from it. They didn’t.
Flash forward a few years later and I decided to give it another try. This second viewing is proof that films can play in different ways depending on what’s happened in your life. Last year, there were two suicides in my life, one was a tragic incident with a crew member and the other a shocking choice by a family member that left many of us devastated. Therefore, the sudden and somewhat inexplicable decision of one character in this film to end their life once seemed foreign and now familiar. When the latter of the two deaths occurred in 2020, I immediately thought of Tommy’s film and knew I would need to watch it again.
This time, the whole thing felt more real, possessed more truth. The Jones character amused me and also moved me. He’s not the saint of Three Burials and Good Old Boys but a screw up who happens to do some good things. I still think Swank isn’t plain enough to be so “plain” in the movie but her character also made more sense to me, especially in her failed search for a romantic partner. Most of all, the film’s stark cinematography from Prieto (doing some of his best work) and its bleak tone appeal to me more now than ever before.
Perhaps this is just one of those films that needs to be revisited after a few years.
Watched on Tubi.