The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Rated 3.0

A Texas ranch foreman (Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed) mourns his Mexican friend (Julio Cesar Cedillo) by kidnapping the border-patrol agent who killed him (Barry Pepper) and forcing the man to help him take the corpse back to be buried in Mexico. Guillermo Arriaga’s script uses time-shifting flashbacks and flash-forwards to cover the fact that it’s all just a long shaggy-dog story with loose ends dangling, leaving the audience saying “Huh?” at the end. Still, it has a feel for the dusty, dry expanses of south Texas and the leathery people who live there, and Jones’ leisurely direction focuses more on character than on action. Dwight Yoakam is good as the local sheriff (a sort of ill-tempered Barney Fife), and Melissa Leo and January Jones play (apparently) the only Anglo women for a thousand miles.