The Homesman

Title:  The Homesman

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   What exactly is a “homesman” anyway?  Well, back in the early days of settling in the western frontier, sometimes settlers didn’t like their new life so well.  So a homesman was a man designated to bring people back to their original homes.  In this film, it is the 1850s, and some of the settlers in the Nebraska Territory are not faring too well.  It has been a brutal winter, and food is scarce.  The small congregation of Loup City (consisting of about 10 buildings) meet in their church, and discuss who should bring three women back east to Iowa who have apparently gone loco in their bare and cold cabins.  None of the men step up to volunteer for this difficult task, so Mary B. Cuddy (Hilary Swank) takes up the burden of getting these women back to civilization.

Before Mary B. gets very far, she happens upon a pathetic looking man in dire circumstances.  Realizing she has him at a disadvantage, she offers George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) an opportunity to be saved from a likely demise, and in return help her get the ladies (Sonja Richter, Miranda Otto, and Grace Gummer – daughter of Meryl Streep) to Iowa.  Naturally, Mr. Briggs agrees to the Hobson’s Choice.  So begins a six week journey in a slow wagon, with danger, starvation and other difficulties to be faced along the way.

This is a dark drama, and appears to be more realistic than almost any other western in terms of how the people dressed, how humble their homes looked and what few possession they owned.  The early settlers were barely surviving; there was little in the way of extra material goods to make their existence enjoyable.   People were forced to rely on their own survival skills, as there was no law and order to speak of.   If you want to see a very well made film directed by Tommy Lee Jones that shows a dark side of the early west, I highly recommend this offering.

Actors To Watch:  Well heck, you have Oscar winners Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank and Meryl Streep, as well as Oscar nominees Haille Steinfeld and John Lithgow acting in the film.  You better believe there is some fine acting all through this movie.

Huh, What The….:   In one scene there is a wooden grave marker kicked off a river ferry.  I have no idea what the motivation was for the action.

Dialogue Nuggets:  “I’ve got some cheese in my pocket.”

“Listen Mary B., you’re as good a man as any man here abouts.”

“You’re as plain as an old tin pail, and bossy!”

“I need this buffalo hide.  This here Indian don’t.”

“You get in the wagon quick as you can, shoot the women in the head, then shoot yourself.”

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