I’m a sucker for a western, so kicking back with The Homesman was an obvious option for an afternoon. Based on Glendon Swarthout’s novel, Tommy Lee Jones starred, directed, and produced this frontier drama that shines a light on what it was like for a frontier woman to survive but fails to make us care about the development of the characters. Hilary Swank stars as the spinster Mary Bee Cuddy (she’s all of thirty-one!) who agrees to transport three mentally ill women across the prairie, and forcibly enlists a claim jumper, George Briggs (Jones), to help her survive Indians and other frontier threats.
The work of Swank and Jones as actors can’t be judged too unfavorably, and the three women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter) they transport are interesting enough. But we’re just not allowed enough character development, or an entertaining enough plot, to actually feel moved by what happens. The film even throws Meryl Streep (always solid!), James Spader, and John Lithgow at us, but it’s just not enough to make us invested in what is going on here. The western depiction is solid but that’s not the same thing as actually making a movie that captivates. rating: rainy day it