The Homesman (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Running Time 120 minutes.
OK for children.
In 1855, two Academy award winners, Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank,
take off in a covered wagon across the Nebraska wilderness to take 3
young women, Miranda Otto,
Grace Gummer, and Sonja Richter (all of whom give terrific performances
as troubled young women),
who have been driven mad by the harsh Nebraska farm life to another
Academy award winner, Meryl Streep and her minister husband in Iowa, who
have agreed to care for them, a journey of at least 5 weeks or even
Even though the story is about the bleakness of Nebraska, the film was
shot in New Mexico. There is also some hypocrisy in the filmmakers’
listing of the cast, because they list Meryl Streep and Hailee Steinfeld
as stars when both appear only as cameos and couldn’t have been on the
set more than a day or two.
The film is about the journey and the dangers they encounter in the
wilderness. Directed by Jones from a screenplay by Jones, Kieran
Fitzgerald, and Wesley A. Oliver and based on the novel by Glendon
Swarthout (who also wrote The Shootist, which was made into the
1976 John Wayne movie), the film had me looking at my watch, but it was
still strangely compelling. The relationship between Jones and Swank, a
romantically frustrated plainswoman who is a successful farmer/rancher,
constitutes fine viewing.
Also appearing in effective short performances are John Lithgow and
The re-creation of the Prairie was painstakingly done by Jones and
production designer Meredith Boswell who studied the photographs of
Solomon Butcher, who spent 40 years documenting the living conditions of
the settlers of the Prairie in the 19th and 20th
Bosworth said that the research was “gut-punching” because they had so
little possessions. It was a stark life and they, along with
cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, have done an admirable job of making a
Western as realistic as any you will ever see.