The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

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The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

I am going to write this title once and from then on, I will only refer to the movie as The Three Burials. The name of the movie is The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. My first and only complaint about this movie would be that the title is impossible to remember, although I'm getting better at it. The movie is about a Texas rancher named Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones) who sets out to find out the real reason behind the murder of one of his Mexican cowboys and his best friend. Local authorities have dismissed his death as just another dead "wetback" but Pete knows there his more to it. He wants to find why Melquiades Estrada died and he wants to make sure he gets a proper burial and he will settle for nothing less.

The Three Burials is the directorial debut of Tommy Lee Jones and Mr. Jones has definitely made an impression with this movie. The Three Burials is an excellent movie and the direction is outstanding. The movie is strengthened by an extremely strong cast including Mr. Jones himself, Barry Pepper, January Jones, Dwight Yoakam (who is establishing himself as one of the better character actors in Hollywood), Melissa Leo and Julio Cedillo. It is an intriguing story with great character development, a little suspense and even a few really humourous moments. Some of the cinematography in Three Burials is simply breathtaking. I have to point out that this cut of the movie ran a bit long but I would think it would be edited down once it hits the theaters. Nevertheless, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed The Three Burials. With a bit of editing, this movie is a must-see. It is something of a mix between Unforgiven and Dances With Wolves, at least in the feeling of the movie, if that makes any sense. I am fortunate enough to have attended a screening where the movie was introduced by Tommy Lee Jones and he talked briefly about the movie and how it is not a "western" like it was referred to by the gentleman who introduced Mr. Jones. I would have to agree that The Three Burials is not a western. This is a movie about people, about redemption, about racism, about life, about accepting consequences for your actions and about keeping your word.

I'm not sure when and if this movie will hit North American theatres but when and if it does and if you don't mind planting your ass in a theater chair for a couple of hours, be sure to check this one out. I can assure you, you will be impressed. And don't be surprised to hear The Three Burials mentioned at Oscar time. It is that good of a movie.

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