A man is shot and quickly buried in the high desert of west Texas. The body is found and reburied in Van Horn's town cemetery. Pete Perkins, a local ranch foreman, kidnaps a Border Patrolman and forces him to disinter the body. With his captive in tow and the body tied to a mule, Pete undertakes a dangerous and quixotic journey into Mexico.Written by
The "Three burials of Melquiades Estrada" is a multi-layered story of death, retribution, loneliness, and remembrance. Although it takes place in modern day Texas, its main character Pete Perkins, superbly played by Tommy Lee Jones, seems to be living resolutely in the past. He is determined to seek justice for his best friend's death and forces the guy responsible for to a journey across the borders in Mexico to locate the village of the deceased for a proper burial. This journey will bring forward the stark contrast between the values of two ways of life and the landscape transversed is both geographical and emotional.
Modern civilization throughout the film is mainly represented by 4WD cars, sniper rifles, dinners, shopping malls, trailers, and TV-sets incessantly showing soap operas, while the characters revelling into those manifestations are invariably emotionally numb, disaffected people, trapped to a perfunctory life from which they seem unable or unwilling to escape. Concomitantly the values of the old west, based on friendship, loyalty and commitment have ebbed, though they are still existent as embodied by the relationship of Pete with his best friend. Pete is forced to pursue his own sense of justice after being repeatedly scorned by the contemptuous behavior of the authorities towards him and his demand for rightful punishment of the culprit, a cool, violence prone and emotionally detached border-guard.
The story is masterly told in a sturdy manner that perfectly serves the complexity of the excellent screenplay by an apposite use of flashbacks and wonderfully shot sequences. All the performances are top notch in their expressive minimalism, greatly contributing to the lasting emotional impact of this outstanding film.
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