‘The Homesman’ is the latest film to face the critics at Cannes 2014, which has thrown out some modern classics (like ‘Mr Turner) and some true stinkers (like ‘Grace of Monaco).

The Homesman

Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Hailee Steinfeld, William Fichtner and Meryl Streep and helmed by Lee Jones in his fourth directorial effort, ‘The Homesman’ hasn’t reached one end of the critical spectrum or another, pleasing most critics but failing to excite others. This reaction has accumulated a fairly healthy 67% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes. 

“This is a frontier tale with something of the classic style of Stagecoach or 3:10 to Yuma, but also the consciously grimmer, austerer feel of Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff and indeed Lee Jones's own The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada,” writes The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw. “There are some broad emotional flourishes and ripe performances in The Homesman - maybe bordering on the over-ripe. But it is put over with such richness and verve.”

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Peter Debruge for Variety wrote, “Unlike other actor-directors, Jones never seems to indulge excess on the part of his cast. Though the characters are strong, the performances are understated,” in his review. “Even the three ladies settle into a state of near-catatonia after awhile, rather than indulging their various “hysterias.” In the past, people have whispered about Jones’ attitudes toward women; with this film, he says a thing or two on the subject with a sensitivity that comes as a welcome surprise.”

According to Allan Hunter of Screen International, “The Homesman paints a poignant picture of an era that crushed the spirit and chipped away at the souls of those who barely endured through the harshest conditions,” while Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph notes, “The mood flits between solemn and rascally, and the pacing is measured: this is storytelling at a mosey rather than a trot,” in his review.