As a precursor to our film project, 12 Western Feature-Length Films in 12 Months, which Running Wild Films and 5J Media will start producing in 2016, director Travis Mills shares his thoughts on films from the genre as he studies Westerns in preparation for our own. Follow the project here on Facebook
This series of short blogs is titled “Western Impressions”.
The Homesman (2014)
I wanted so badly for The Homesman to work but at almost every turn it didn’t. Watching Jones’s latest Western, I searched and searched for where he might have gone wrong in this film which has a great cast, story and perhaps the best modern director of Westerns behind it. Still now, I am not quite sure. In fact the search isn’t over as I am reading Swarthout’s book to still figure it out. The tone is off and the casting too. My overall impression is that Swank is still too pretty to be seen as “plain” and unwanted in a world of crusty, weathered men without many options. It just doesn’t make any damn sense. Nor do many of the moments when Jones feels most self-indulgent, like the dancing and singing, which might have sounded inspired on paper but doesn’t feel so on screen. The best scenes are the fight with Tim Blake Nelson and the scene where he burns the men alive in the hotel.
Lasting impression: beautiful at times but hollow at the core throughout.