Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada

Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Julio Cedillo, January Jones,

Director: Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones makes his directorial debut with the quasi-western THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA. Written by Mexican writer Guillermo Arriaga, the film seeks to examine the border issues between Texas and Mexico and involves cowboy Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones) out for revenge of the murder of his Mexican best friend, Melquiades Estrada.

Estrada’s body is discovered in a shallow grave in the desert where it was hastily dumped. It is transferred to a pauper’s grave in the cemetery by the local authorities, who have no interest in solving the crime of an illegal immigrant. And so begins the journey by Pete Perkins, who tracks down the killer and forces him to trek back across the border to his friend’s home town for a proper burial, meeting all manner of trial and tribulation along the way.

With the current revival of appetites for westerns, and with the success of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, Jones has tapped into a trend. This is a very decent film, with aspects to satisfy both western fans and moralists, and the relationship between Jones’ desperately bereaved cowboy and his murderer is interesting and human, but although steady and relaxed, perhaps just like a cowboy, the story unfolds a little slowly.

A worthy film, but might prove more popular with directors or filmmakers than with audiences.

4 out of 6 stars

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