Strong Woman vs. Gruff Man

For more than an hour, The Homesman is one of the best-told films I can remember. It is directed by, and starring, Tommy Lee Jones, based on a screenplay co-written by him. The secret prime mover, however, is a woman named Mary Bee Cuddy, played to perfection by Hilary Swank. Miss Cuddy, unmarried, devout and outspoken, lives on her own farm on the Nebraska Territory. The year is 1837, and this is the frontier. If you go West, you will find disease, hunger, isolation and hostile Indians. There is nothing but flat grassland as far as the eye can see. No villages, just huddled groups of little colorful houses crouching under an overwhelming sky.

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