She calls her mules Grace and Redemption, he dubs his horse Brown; therein lies a relatively comprehensive summation of Mary Bee Cuddy (Swank) and George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones).
As the pair journey across a starkly beautiful Midwest, Jones’s direction revels in initial darkness giving way to a bizarre handling of tone and an endearing simplicity.
Death sparks some life in the final third – aided by some unexpected cameos that contrast with Briggs’s selective stoicism – but its impression is not lasting and the Old West is still the same old West for too much of the runtime.
Belying its novelised origins, The Homesman is all-too-often a series of odd and/or off putting scenes joined by some striking scenery and a compelling central partnership. When it works, beautiful and bestial.
CAST: Hilary Swank, Tommy Lee Jones
DIRECTOR: Tommy Lee Jones
WRITERS: Tommy Lee Jones, Kieran Fitzgerald, Wesley A. Oliver, Glendon Swarthout (novel)
SYNOPSIS: Having saved his life, farmer Mary Bee Cuddy finds herself accompanied on a trip from Nebraska to Iowa by claim jumper George Briggs.