When there is so much junk coming out of Holleywood these days it is a wonder why they puzzle over their box office dwindling. And just when it is easy to get cynical, another great film comes along for adults that actually is interesting and makes you think a little bit. Such a film is The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada. The title alone would put many people off, but it is a film well worth watching.
Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones) is a cowboy forman in a Texas border town who hires an undocumented Mexican cowboy, Melquiades Estrada, (Julio Cedillo) who is killed by a gung - ho border patrolman, Mike Norton (Barry Pepper).
When the local sheriff is in cahoots with the Border Patrol and refuses to investigate the murder, Pete takes things into his own hands, and sees to it that justice is done.
This film is especially moving and timely with the demonization of undocumented Mexican workers in the United States by our congress and hate talk radio personalities like Michael Savage. This film depicts the close friendship which develops between Pete and Mel, so close that Mel makes Pete promise to return him to his hometown of Jimenez, Mexico if he should die so he can be buried there. Pete makes good on his promise forcing Mike Norton to exhume the body buried in a pauper's cemetery by the Border Patrol and to carry it to Mexico for re-burial.
The moral of the story? Perhaps that all human beings are worthy of dignity and respect and that intolerance is unacceptable for Americans who claim to value human rights and freedom. Having said this I want to add that this film is not at all preachy or moralistic but a simple story told with a rawness, honesty, and straightforwardness that is refreshing in our age of "spin" and duplicity.
This is a moving film which is Tommy Lee Jones directing debut. It is well worth watching. I recommend it.