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janbb's avatar

Has anyone seen the film "The Homesman" with Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones?

Asked by janbb (57138points) April 7th, 2015

I just watched it streaming and thought it was brilliant: powerful and disturbing. Great acting, cinematography and an unusual take on the settlers’ lives in the West. Some of it reminded me of Willa Cather’s My Antonia. I’m wondering why it was ignored at Oscar time.

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7 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Upon looking up the IMDB rating (6.6 out of 10) and Rotten Tomatoes (6.6 for Top Critics, 7.1 for All Critics, and an Audience score of 51% liking it), it leads to the conclusion that there are notable flaws in the film.

In reading the IMDB reviews, most echo your sentiments about great acting, cinematography and an unusual take on the Old West. Despite these, there are also enough issues brought up in these reviews that sheds light on why the ratings are not higher.

To answer the real question about why it was ignored at the Academy Awards, part of that is addressed above. More importantly though is that AA nominations are just like job interviews; one can be qualified, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t better candidates at that given time.

janbb's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I more wanted to discuss the film with those who had seen it; the question about the awards was a side line. I realize nominations are subjective; I just found the film so much more interesting than some others like Boyhood. I’ve read a lot of reviews and ratings of it too; I can understand why some would find flaws which is true of any film. I did see that Swank and Jones got best actor awards in other competitions and that Jones was nominated for best director at the Palm D’Or. It just seems to me like it passed under the radar but that can be said of many films.

Thanks for taking the time to look it up.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@janbb It’s on my “watchlist” because of your personal accolades. I just assumed that the last question on the OP was the real question.

janbb's avatar

Let me know what you think when you watch it. I’m still thinking about it a few days later. (Can see why you thought that was the real question but it was just an afterthought.)

I kind of suspect that being a feminist Western, it didn’t find a large audience.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

“I’m still thinking about it a few days later”

Yeah, me too. Whew, that was a tough film to watch. About the time she gave herself… and then… well, let’s put it this way, I had to turn it off for awhile. I think it bothered me for all the same reasons it would bother anybody else: the absolute desolation, loneliness, societal pressures, a faith that wasn’t working… and a man who was an admitted coward from the git-go and even upon his redemption, he is still a fuck-up, just another well-intentioned alcoholic. But it bothers me even more because I meet so many people out here in the same boat—worthless pieces of shit for people who leave debris fields of such immense collateral damage populated by the innocents who are either blind-sided or just can’t get out of their way in time—and these guys are rarely aware of it because they are so anaesthetized. I could hardly get through this film.

So, on a couple of levels, it got personal. The one haunting thought I have is I wonder how many women, unsung, had lived lives such as Swank’s character—and how many women in my maternal family line, the panhandle Texans and Oklahomans, had suffered in those empty wastelands among men whose behaviour and emotional skill set were perfect for survival in that environment, but were totally inadequate as partners to the more sensitive, intelligent women stuck out there like the heroine in this story.

Great acting, excellent direction and cinematography—especially those longshots of lonely stretches of wide, empty steppe—as empty as these people’s lives. And here is this one good person, so promising, so deserving, so brave, so hungry to share her life with somebody and so alone…

Hollywood money likes happy endings. They always have. The storyline breaks a huge unwritten rule at about 1hr 20 mins into the film and it is almost unforgivable to do that which I cannot reveal here because it’s a spoiler. You just don’t do that to a beloved main character in American films. The feeling in Hollywood is that Amerca, the land of Paxil and Prozac, won’t pay to sit through something even more depressing than their own lives. So, I can see why they may not have wanted to risk marketing capital on this film and so it has languished in this market. All the more reason why Swank and Jones should be lauded for the bravery that it took to bring this project to fruition.

There have been many American film productions that have suffered the same fate. Sometimes they become sleepers, then cult classics. With the Palm d’Or behind it, and some word of mouth, maybe this one will eventually get more play.

janbb's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus So glad you saw it and found it as affecting as I did. The lives of the other women too – right? Unbelievably powerful, I thought.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I just finished watching the movie. At its ending I went back and re-watched some parts thinking that I missed something.

As much as I respect you both, the movie just didn’t have the same effect on me. I don’t understand why such a person of the devout Christian faith would commit suicide when she had been shunned by society for being outside of the norm. Her personality was strong. She had a goal. She might have been more accepted in the area of destination. Why give up after having such strong religious conventions of right vs. wrong?

I couldn’t understand why the three women in tow became “crazy”. There were different reasons given, but my understanding is that most women of that time sucked it up and moved on. Having three women in the same general area be labeled as “crazy” for different reasons and then shipped back to where they originated. Was this a common practice?

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