Tommy Lee Jones returns to the director’s chair with this western set in 19th century Nebraska called The Homesman. He also shares the lead acting role with Hilary Swank.

The film runs for about two hours and at times, especially during the second half of the film, it feels like they’re just throwing in scenes to fill to minutes. And a lot of those scenes seem pointless. They don’t come from anywhere and they don’t lead onto anything.

Swank plays Mary Bee Cutty, a woman tasked with transporting three mentally ill women from the wilderness of Nebraska back east to where they can be looked after better. At first she is set to go on her own but then she comes across George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) sitting on top his horse underneath a tree with a noose around his neck. The horse not running off being the only thing keeping him alive. In exchange for setting him free, he agrees to go with Swank.

The setting, out on wide open plains is gorgeous to look at and the cinematography and set design are also brilliant. It’s an absolutely beautiful film to enjoy visually but unfortunately not in many other ways.

It’s been called misogynistic but also feministic and I’m not sure what one of those it is. It’s supposed to show struggle and tries to show trauma but these scenes slide into melodrama far too often. During the second half it borders on farcical. It feels like they’re just flinging disturbing scenes at you one by one in the hope that one of them will shock some emotion out of you.

It’s been praised by a lot of other people so maybe I’m in the minority and you’ll like it but I can’t recommend it.