Preview by: Jack Foley
TOMMY Lee Jones scored a double personal triumph at this year's
Cannes Film Festival with The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
- his first big screen outing as director.
The Oscar-winning star picked up the Prix d'interprétation
masculine, or Best Actor Award, for his performance in the film,
which was so well-received by critics and judges (it played in
competition) that it also picked up the best screenplay prize.
The western focuses on ranch-hand, Pete Perkins, who is forced
to take action when his best friend, Melquiades, is found dead
in the middle of the desert and the local police have no plans
to pursue his murderer.
The lack of interest means that Melquiades is given a summary
burial, but Pete decides to investigate the crime himself and
eventually catches the culprit, forcing him to dig up Melquiades's
body and take it to his native village in Mexico, to give him
a burial worthy of the name.
It's a tale of revenge that's gritty, grimly comic and told in
the style of a Clint Eastwood-directed movie and it co-stars Barry
Pepper, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Dwight Yoakam and January Jones.
After winning the best actor award,
a delighted Jones told the audience: "I would like to thank
all those who believed in this film, and encouraged me every day.
Thank you with all my heart!"
He later expressed his surprise at the prize but said that it
had fulfilled a childhood ambition - 'the reason that you become
a filmmaker or an actor is because one day, at some point in your
life, you might see 3,000 people come together in a single joyful
Following the official screening, Jones was also asked about
his views on contemporary westerns and their place in the current
He replied: "The term western has become pejorative if not
epithet. And I don't think it applies to our movie.
"But it's as Guillermo says, it's a movie about a culture,
a country that has a border."
And referring to comparisons with Eastwood's directing style,
he added: "Clint is a very good example for any director
and I do have one thing in common with Clint - I don't like to
do any more than three takes.
"I think we should all be ready to get it right the first
time and the second take is a back-up and the third take in case
there's a scratch on the negative or something."
It is not yet known when the film will be released in the UK,
but given the interest following its Cannes victory, expect it
to be well-received when it does arrive.