6.6/10
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166 user 218 critic

The Homesman (2014)

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Three women who have been driven mad by pioneer life are to be transported across the country by covered wagon by the pious, independent-minded Mary Bee Cuddy, who in turn employs low-life drifter George Briggs to assist her.

Director:

Tommy Lee Jones

Writers:

Tommy Lee Jones (screenplay), Kieran Fitzgerald (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
5 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy Lee Jones ... George Briggs
Hilary Swank ... Mary Bee Cuddy
Grace Gummer ... Arabella Sours
Miranda Otto ... Theoline Belknap
Sonja Richter ... Gro Svendsen
Jo Harvey Allen ... Mrs. Polhemus
Barry Corbin ... Buster Shaver
David Dencik ... Thor Svendsen
William Fichtner ... Vester Belknap
Evan Jones ... Bob Giffen
Caroline Lagerfelt ... Netti Svendsen
John Lithgow ... Reverend Alfred Dowd
Tim Blake Nelson ... Freighter
Jesse Plemons ... Garn Sours
James Spader ... Aloysius Duffy
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Storyline

Three women who have been driven mad by pioneer life are to be transported across the country by covered wagon by the pious, independent-minded Mary Bee Cuddy, who in turn employs low-life drifter George Briggs to assist her.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The untold story of The West.

Genres:

Drama | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, sexual content, some disturbing behavior and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA | France

Language:

English | Danish

Release Date:

18 May 2014 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Deuda de honor See more »

Filming Locations:

New Mexico, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$45,433, 16 November 2014

Gross USA:

$2,429,989

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,819,421
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Reunites Tommy Lee Jones, Tim Blake Nelson, and James Spader, they previously appeared in Lincoln (2012). See more »

Goofs

When Mary Bee is at the grave of the little girl and stays behind to "repair it", her bonnet blows away. She doesn't pick it up when she gets on the horse and rides away. However, when we see her hanging, she is wearing her bonnet. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mary Bee Cuddy: [prodding plow horses] Come on, girls.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film 2017: Episode dated 19 November 2014 (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Take Thee This Token
Music by Marco Beltrami
Lyrics by Glendon Swarthout
Performed by Hilary Swank
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
a dark bleak, grimy Western with soul and strong performances
25 March 2015 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

The Homesman, about a 31 year old (un-married/childless) woman (Hilary Swank) who takes up the challenge of bringing three crazed women across the Nebraska plains over five weeks with the help of a deserter-drifter left for dead (Jones), is in some ways meant to be a real Feminist Western (with a capital 'F'), and not in the way that a silly work like The Quick and the Dead was with Sharon Stone. Here, it's much more about depicting a time and place that was quite bleak and desolate and, in some spaces, without much hope. Ultimately Tommy Lee Jones, through the novel it's based on, sees a little more light at the end of the tunnel for his protagonist than, say, Eastwood did in Unforgiven. But it's a combination of things it's about, and emotionally the film does work quite well, in particular in the relationship that unfolds between the two leads.

If you're curious to see a western that has the love of the plains of the West visually speaking ala Ford, but has the dark contours of someone like Mann - and added to that those super dirty production designs and character realizations from Spaghetti Westerns - this might be it, at least up to a point. It's so unrelentingly dark in how it looks on at the deteriorating mental states of these women, and the desperation in the journey for Jones and Swanks' characters, that the few moments of humor are rather surprising - and welcome - especially when Jones first appears to Swank on the noose and the horse. It's the kind of scene that shows this actor, well into his 60's and pushing 70, trying something new in a performance (if only for a scene or two).

It's got a cast that is practically distracting for the who's who that shows up, mostly for one scene a piece: James Spader, Tim Blake Nelson, John Lithgow, William Fichtner, Meryl Streep (!) and Hailee Steinfeld (who appears almost to have wandered from the True Grit set to this one). There's so much going for the Homesman that it's a shame the script is uneven, and there's a plot twist two thirds of the way through that is sort of explained but not at all at the same time, and it leaves the film with a gaping tragedy that can never quite be filled. Interestingly, if you watch the behind the scenes on the blu-ray one of the screenwriters mentions the book left things unexplained as well. That might be fine in the book - or perhaps more was explained in other ways - but it still doesn't work, and what Jones goes for in awe-inspiring shots he leaves behind with some muddled story beats.

Nevertheless, The Homesman is a good Western, a solid western digging into the roots of the genre and mixing the unsavory and horrifying (not like a horror movie, just some repellant images at times, but for a point), though whether one will want to return to it like other, better Westerns is another story. It's the kind of picture I can't put down for its artistry, even if things can be looked at more critically, which may explain why it didn't find its way through the End-of-Awards-time (albeit it was accepted at Cannes).


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