The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

January 25th, 2007 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

Critics showered praise all over Tommy Lee Jones’ directorial debut, and it certainly was the quintessential TexMex experience — directed by Texan Jones and written by Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriga (a frequent Inarritu collaborator) it depicts border guards, cattle ranchers, a western theme of redemption and all the washed-out, grimy tones and prickly heat of the desert.

After a trigger-happy border guard Mike (Barry Pepper) kills rancher Melquiades, his best friend Pete (Jones) is determined to deliver Mel home. He takes Mike hostage so they can dig up Mel’s body and carry it — rapidly decaying — home for burial.

Pepper explains during the Making Of featurette that it’s the story of a self absorbed, selfish, violent and impetuous boy becoming a man. After being dragged across the desert by Pete, he endures the painful process of growing up and learning responsibility for others.

Pepper calls it a ‘mentor’ story — a subtext that was buried deeply within a seemingly simple story, often clouded by subplots that don’t seem important involving Mike’s disaffected wife (January Jones) and the emasculated sheriff on Pete’s tail (Dwight Yoakam).

There’s a host of stuff on the double disc including a commentary with the two Jones’ and Yoakam, some pretty light making of material and an interview with screenwriter Arriga.

If you didn’t get too much out of Three Burials, it’s one of those films that will grow on you the more you watch it. If you loved it as much as most critics did, the extras will be manna from heaven.


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