Cannes 2014: ‘The Homesman’ preview

Fresh from the dusty plains, American actor Tommy Lee Jones will present his second directorial offering, The Homesman (2014), in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. Following on from Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff (2011) and anticipating Gavin O’Connor’s much troubled Jane Got a Gun (2015) (both Lynne Ramsay and Michael Fassbender were once attached), The Homesman looks set to be a western with a focus on the role of women. Jones plays George Briggs, a claims jumper who is rescued from a hanging by pioneer Mary Bee Cuddy (Oscar winner Hilary Swank). In return for his life, Briggs must help Cuddy in her mission to transport a trio of insane women from Nebraska to Iowa, contending against the harsh environment, bandits and hostile natives.

Adapted from Glendon Swarthout’s 1988 novel of the same name by Jones and co-writers Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley Oliver, from the recently released trailer The Homesman appears to play to the lead actor’s strengths, showcasing his dry humour and deadpan know-how against Swank’s gutsy no-nonsense heroine. The premise seems to be much more straightforward and – with a cast of big names and familiar faces (Tim Blake Nelson, James Spader and Meryl Streep amongst them) – more conventionally crowd-pleasing than his bloody and perversely fascinating debut The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. His inaugural directorial outing failed to find a wide audience, though it did pick up nods for Jones in the lead and the screenplay when it premièred in competition at Cannes back in 2005.

The 67th Cannes Film Festival takes place from 14-25 May 2014. For more Cannes coverage, simply follow this link.

John Bleasdale