The Homesman review by Michelle Sommerville - Cinema Paradiso
Emotional, complex, and not for the faint of heart. These are just a few words that describe the 2014 film The Homesman. This film is unlike any you will normally see at the cinema, and takes storytelling to another level. With an intense focus on its well-scripted characters, the actors’ performances are all the more outstanding in the spotlight. It is one of those films that deserve such a high star-rating, but it is not one you will want to watch again and again.
The Homesman: Three crazy women, one independent female carer, and a male drifter. This is the group we follow as they attempt to ride across the American outback.
It is not the story we concern ourselves with; but with the characters.
Veteran actors Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, William Fichtner, John Lithgow, James Spader, and youngsters Jesse Plemons, and Hailee Steinfeld. These are only some of the amazing actors that bring these characters to life. They are big name stars that play both major and minor roles, and you can be sure about one thing: to get such high calibre actors like these, you just know the script and story are something special.
The film’s focus on mental issues in the American West is something I have not seen before. Mental issues have not just arose in the last few years. No, people have been suffering from them for almost as long as there have been people. It is an important issue to explore, and this film has done it with respect. It was researched greatly, making it not only socially important, but historically important. These are not the stories you will read about in your school textbooks.
Helping to set the scene was the stunning direction by Tommy Lee Jones. We gain an intimate connection to these characters, which is starkly contrasted by the wide-open expanse.
Even the soundtrack added greatly to the atmosphere of the film. Its inclusion of wind sounds mimicked the constant flows of wind the early settlers would have been tormented by.
The Homesman has received mixed to positive reviews. Audiences and critics alike are naming detail after detail that they found excellently crafted and executed. The only issue with this film some viewers have noted, is that the story is slow-moving and is very different to the majority of films at the cinema. Its story is more character-driven, and less plot-driven, and this is not what younger adults are accustomed to. However, even those of the older generations who grew up watching American Westerns will not find this familiar, as it is also far from the cowboy ‘shoot ‘em up’ films. It is almost a breed of its own.
Its intense story, violence, sexual content and disturbing behaviour makes it inappropriate for children. This does not mean it should be avoided. It is a remarkable film that is already nominated for numerous awards, and is sure to be included in an assortment of Academy Award categories.