The Homesman

Actor-director Tommy Lee Jones, whose debut feature as film-maker was the highly praised The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, also at Cannes, tells an affecting story of the Old West in The Homesman. He and a pious spinster (Hilary Swank) head 400 miles across the untamed Nebraska territories with three women driven insane by privation. Their destination is a church where the women will be looked after. He is a drifter and the film’s main thrust is that, rough-edged as he is, he manages to save both his soul and his charges. The film is attractively shot and acted, with Jones outstanding. But it is also long and slow. Another competition entry, in fact, that doesn’t quite make it as a solid candidate for a prize.