Tommy Lee Jones’ second theatrical feature, “The Homesman,” is curt, cruel and weirdly funny, a female-leaning 1855-set Western “road movie” about a covered-wagon escape-cum-trek from pioneer life in the Nebraska Territories that lives up to Jones’ advance talk of the film as being built by himself and ingenious cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Babel,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”) upon geometry, minimalism and the visual work of artists like Donald Judd and Josef Albers, Kabuki theater and the textures of photographer Josef Koudelka. It’s a bold, thrilling work of comedy and abstraction from an obstinate sixty-eight-year-old artist. Based on a novel by Glendon Swarthout (“The Shootist”). With Jones, Hilary Swank, luminous in her rectitude, an expectedly peculiar Meryl Streep, John Lithgow, James Spader, Hailee Steinfeld, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, Tim Blake Nelson. 122m. (Ray Pride)
“The Homesman” is now playing.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.