The Homesman is one of those rare films which I went to see without having seen a trailer, read a review or seen an interview about it. Literally all I knew of the plot was the couple lines of a synopsis that was on the cinema website. I love going in blind to films, mainly because it happens so rarely these days!
The Homesman has a great opening, the shots of the bleak west set to the wonderful score really engaged me and I found myself thinking quite positively about what I was about to watch. The first hour goes by at a reasonable enough pace however after this the film enters a stage where it just drags and drags. It was really bad, I found myself contemplating if this was the most boring film of 2014. I didn’t find any of the dialogue engaging at all and unfortunately there were several scenes which featured extended conversations between Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) and Cuddy (Hilary Swank). I got the vibe that we were meant to feel sorry for these characters as they transported the three mad women across state however I simply didn’t like the characters enough to feel anything for them. The whole film just had such a depressing atmosphere to it as well, this combined with the overwhelming boredom I was experiencing did not make for a good match. Thankfully in the last half an hour of the film things begin to pick up again.
Yes the film does reward the viewers for sticking with it through that awful middle section. What the film achieves is in a way quite remarkable. As although I have already commented that I didn’t feel anything for the characters as their journey was coming to an end I found myself actually caring quite a lot about them. The fact that the film was able to create such a massive change in feeling is quite something, I don’t think it does it quite fast enough but the fact that it does it at all deserves praise. There are further moments in this final section for the score to shine and it was really enjoyable and worked perfectly with some scenes. The film itself is made well, it looks good and the lead performances are really great but overall I wasn’t really entertained. I don’t think The Homesman quite achieves the emotional punch that it wanted to, it was beginning to but it needed to start earlier to have the desired effect.
The Homesman has all the ingredients to be a wonderful film however it is misguided in areas and simply doesn’t engage the viewer enough. If you can bare to stick with it through its woeful middle section there is some reward but I can’t help but feel it may just have been some relief from what came before.
BIGGEST FLAW – How much the middle section dragged
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT – The score
Rating – 5/10