The Homesman (2014)

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The label “revisionist Western” has been thrown around for so long that it’s all but meaningless now. From Peckinpah’s Wild Bunch and Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller through Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Jarmusch’s Dead Man to Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, the outlier/atypical exception has become the norm, and these days, the truly daring move would be to make a straight-up oater without the frills. That’s not what Tommy Lee Jones does in The Homesman, but it’s not exactly revisionism either; he’s partaking in a sort of sub-sub-genre, the eccentric Western, and he may be our most accomplished current practitioner of it.

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