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The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada - Preview & Cannes reaction



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 mind'.

Following the official screening, Jones was also asked about his views on contemporary westerns and their place in the current market.

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.


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