Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

The Three Burials of Melquiades marked Tommy Lee Jones's directorial debut, and quite the debut. It's neo-western but without quite the hard edge like some other films in the genre. It does deal with a central death, but this film isn't about shootouts. The main thrust of the plot is a revenge of sorts but not the type of revenge you'd usually expect from a western, as it follows Tommy Lee Jones's Pete forcing his friends killer, Norton (Barry Pepper), on a trek to bury his friend where he wanted to be buried.  The focus of the story is on the two men as people, as it examines their personalities, Norton being a general lout and Pete being kind of sad deconstruction of the stoic hero. On their emotional journey though they pass by other people in various vignettes which are a bit more low key than in the traditional western. They are often humorous but always emotional as Jones grants us such a vivid portrait into the unique lives around the border town, beyond even the main story. It's a wonderful atypical western.

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