I've been anxiously awaiting this trailer so let's hitch our Yes No Maybe So wagon to Hilary Swank's as she transports three crazies across the country to Iowa in the western The Homesman. We knew from interviews and a cursory knowledge of the novelist Glendon Swarthout only a handful of things before seeing this trailer.
1. Six of Swarthout's other books have been adapted for the screen, most famously the ür spring break girls-gone-wild movie Where the Boys Are (1960) and The Shootist (1976) starring John Wayne
2. "The Homesman" refers to the job title that Swank's farmer character Mary Bee Cuddy signs on to perform, carting insane women across the country
3. Meryl Streep's role is small and she has no scenes with Swank (according to Swank herself) but her character has some part in collecting the three women in the wagon
4. It's directed by Tommy Lee Jones and shot by Brokeback Mountain's cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto
5. It takes place in the 1850s.
The trailer and the breakdown after the jump...
• The premise itself is fascinating. What specificity.
• That shot of the doll being buried is totally sad and evocative. Especially with the humming underscore which ends the trailer
• Two of Hilary's line readings sound really good in this brief glimpse: "we make a good team" and "I live, uncommonly, alone."
• Some of the shots are starkly beautiful...
• Although a lot of the shots look just flat. What is it with washed out color? If you really want to make a black and white movie, make a black and white movie. Imagine how much more striking it would be. Dusty westerns don't necessarily have to be robbed of color - see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid which is appropriately dusty but still filled with color.
• Is it just me or does Tommy Lee Jones look like he's tilting a little camp with his choices. "Help me." That seems like a dangerous choice in a movie about hissing lunatics in a wagon cage.
• A couple of Swank's line readings are worrisome particularly "Suppose I do. What will you do for me?"
• What's with the heavy Swank eyebrows? Distracting. You already won two Oscar for masculine deglamming, girl. Don't push your luck.
• Tommy Lee Jones's first directing job Three Burials got a lot of fine reviews.
• Grace Gummer and Miranda Otto (yay!) and Sonja Richter could well shine here from under their ropes and chains and unkempt locks
• Opportunities for robust and moving performances seem abundant
• As do opportunities to comment on the western genre in a feminine way and examine the definition of "sanity" and how sexism can apply to perceptions of the same.
• But the co-leads could well descend into cliche odd couple chemistry. This project looks entirely dependent on execution.
That premise alone has me intrigued enough to be a Yes. Unless the reviews are terrible. But I sure wish there was a bit more color to the cinematography. Or less. How about you?