The Homesman

2014

The Homesman

Critics Consensus

A squarely traditional yet somewhat progressive Western, The Homesman adds another absorbing entry to Tommy Lee Jones' directorial résumé.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 152

52%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,200
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Movie Info

When three women living on the edge of the American frontier are driven mad by harsh pioneer life, the task of saving them falls to the pious, independent-minded Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank). Transporting the women by covered wagon to Iowa, she soon realizes just how daunting the journey will be, and employs a low-life drifter, George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), to join her. The unlikely pair and the three women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter) head east, where a waiting minister and his wife (Meryl Streep) have offered to take the women in. But the group first must traverse the harsh Nebraska Territories marked by stark beauty, psychological peril and constant threat. (C) Roadside Entertainment

Cast

Tommy Lee Jones
as George Briggs
Hilary Swank
as Mary Bee Cuddy
Meryl Streep
as Altha Carter
Grace Gummer
as Arabella Sours
Miranda Otto
as Theoline Belknap
Sonja Richter
as Gro Svendsen
John Lithgow
as Reverend Alfred Dowd
Hailee Steinfeld
as Tabitha Hutchinson
James Spader
as Aloysius Duffy
Jo Harvey Allen
as Mrs. Polhemus
Barry Corbin
as Buster Shaver
David Dencik
as Thor Svendsen
William Fichtner
as Vester Belknap
Evan Jones
as Bob Giffen
Tim Blake Nelson
as The Freighter
Jesse Plemons
as Garn Sours
Karen Jones
as Mrs. Linens
Martin Palmer
as Vigilante #2
Jerry Vahn Knight
as Vigilante #3
Adrian Doerfler
as Vigilante #4
Lela Rose Allen
as Belknap Daughter #1
Sachie Capitani
as Belknap Daughter #2
View All

News & Interviews for The Homesman

Critic Reviews for The Homesman

All Critics (152) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (123) | Rotten (29)

  • Parts of The Homesman are a slog to sit through, but the movie ends on a note of absurd comedy that also breaks your heart, suggesting that some people, no matter the circumstances, are incapable of change.

    Dec 6, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • If only things had started out on more solid ground and headed toward some sort of resolution. If only.

    Dec 5, 2014 | Rating: C | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Swank, an Oscar winner for "Boys Don't Cry" and "Million Dollar Baby," is outstanding, getting to the essence of Mary Bee's pride and pain. And in the showier role, Jones impressively peels away layers of rambunctiousness to reveal George's humanity.

    Nov 28, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Swank and Streep are big stars with famous faces, and yet disappear into their roles; these characters convey both quiet strength and gentle kindness.

    Nov 28, 2014 | Rating: 3/4
  • As the protagonists near their final destination, The Homesman offers a critique of civilization that's almost as pessimistic as its critique of frontier life, suggesting that in every corner of America there have always been more losers than winners.

    Nov 26, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The film is a tonal nightmare, lurching uneasily from hang-'em and shoot-'em cowboy comedy to gruesome vignettes from the lives of frontier women.

    Nov 21, 2014 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Homesman

  • Jul 26, 2015
    "The Homesman" is a remarkable western delving into numerous social issues all but ignored by other films of the genre (such as the role of marriage, the church's role in society, women's role in society, and social standing). Very good acting by all players and skilled directing by Jones make this nearly action-free film well worth seeing.
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 05, 2015
    Bleak, dark, gritty and unwavering, The Homesman takes the Western genre an inputs a dramatic tragedy. It's a film that's well acted, has mature ideas and an authentic feel, yet features a narrative that borders on inaccessible in parts and disjointed in others. In Homesman we find three frontier women driven to insanity from the harsh conditions they face, prompting a need to transport them to care in Iowa from the Nebraska territory. The task falls to the fiercely independent Mary Bee Cuddy, a woman who finds herself a bit too brash for the rest of the townspeople. She soon encounters the somewhat cantankerous George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), who accompanies her on the journey. Directed by Tommy Lee Jones, the film does a fantastic job of capturing the brutal nature of frontier life at the time, and the interesting societal and gender dynamics at play. He populates his film with fine performances, especially among the insane women, who give haunting portrayals. His chemistry with Hilary Swank is palpable, and the beginning promising. The frustrating part of the film, however, was its lack of complete narrative coherence. Its exact message is a bit murky, and the main protagonist role shifts from Swank to Jones about 2/3 in to the film. The characterization of Swank felt unfinished, and the motivations of Jones are never really answered. Solid overall, but with scripting problems. 3.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 10, 2015
    The Homesman is a thoroughly depressing experience with little energy. The idea of throwing a feminist and a curmudgeon on a road trip is inspired. But our central duo are not nearly engaging as they should be. It's mostly forgettable except for a few amusing moments. Out of the blue a grizzled Tommy Lee Jones gets up and dances a zesty jig while singing by the campfire. In another scene, he torches a hotel in a spiteful rage and that got my pulse quickening a bit. Oh James Spader's pompous hotelier is another high point in a production that usually operates a constant low. The story is inert. To make matters worse, a late dramatic development just happens abruptly. The perplexing act ostensibly motivated by religious guilt. The script is frustratingly cloudy on that point and when the chronicle isn't vague, it's just dull. fastfilmreviews.com
    Mark H Super Reviewer
  • Dec 14, 2014
    In "The Homesman," Mary Bee Cuddy(Hilary Swank) is a self-sufficient farmer in Nebraska territory. However, she aims to change that by proposing marriage to Bob Giffen(Evan Jones), a fellow homesteader, and is turned down flat. Soon enough, Mary and the rest of the town have bigger problems to contend themselves with. Namely, the mental well-being of three local women(Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter). It is soon decided to take them back east to Iowa for the care they need and Mary is the one who volunteers to take them. Luckily, for her she finds George Briggs(Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed and co-wrote), a not-so-good man about to be lynched, who agrees to help. For about the last fifteen years, Hollywood has had little idea what to do with Hilary Swank, who like many others who do not fit easily into a simple box. However, with "The Homesman," she gives her own fierce answer in another excellent performance in a western that is relevant to today.(Plus, in an extended cameo, Meryl Streep gives her best performance in quite a while. Faint praise, I know, but still.) What this movie also does so well is detail not so much the physical struggles of surviving on the frontier, but the mental ones as well. So, it is a shame that women are hardly treated any better in the present day.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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