The Homesman (2014) - bleak western starring Tommy Lee Jones & Hilary Swank

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The Homesman is not a traditional western, instead of a tale about heroic cowboys and their strong, fierce wives like the Yellowstone prequels 1883 & 1923 (starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren) on Paramount. The Homesman is a story about those who don't make it. Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) is a single woman running a ranch on the Nebraska plains. Mary volunteers to take three women who have been driven insane by pioneer life across the country to Iowa by covered wagon. Needing help, Mary hires a low-life drifter and claim jumper George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to assist her.

The Homesman is directed by Tommy Lee Jones in an understated character driven drama. All the actors fit into their roles perfectly. The unforgiving Nebraska landscape is barren and grand, the hard life along with the endless monotony and incessant wind would drive anyone insane.

The film also features Grace Gummer (Mr. Robot), John Lithgow, Tim Blake Nelson, Jesse Plemons, James Spader, and Meryl Streep.

The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto echos the landscapes in John Ford films and emphasizes the individual against the sheer size of the land they will never conquer.

The Homesman remind me of the western films by Kelly Reichardt: Meeks Cutoff and First Cow.

The landscape, hellish weather, wind, biting cold winters and insanity depicted in the film is all too real. I lived out there for 5 years, it was beautiful and deadly. Almost everyone I knew back then is dead, very few people thrived. This was in 1975, making a life on the plains in the 1850's would have been almost impossible.

The Ash Hollow sod house near Lewellen, Nebraska is similar to the houses in The Homesman. We used to drive by the house all the time, the Oregon Trail wagon tracks can still be seen winding West. The sod house was in the middle of nowhere, off the side of the road and in rough shape and has since been slightly restored with a park around it.

Watch the trailer

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Thanks for posting, it looks like a marvelous movie.  2014 was a year of changes for me and somehow I missed this one which looks right up my alley.  I'll look it up somewhere.