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The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Rating: 3 stars
By PETER KEOUGH  |  February 2, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars
060203_Inside_threeburials.jpgThe title of Tommy Lee Jones’s directorial debut gives fair warning of its weirdness. Films as diverse as Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, John Sayles’s Lone Star and even The Wizard of Oz come to mind, but the end result is Jones’s own shaggy-corpse story. With artful indirection he unravels the mystery of the death of the migrant worker of the title. Pete (Jones), a crusty ranch hand and Estrada’s friend, determines that border patrolman Mike Norton (Barry Pepper) did the deed. He kidnaps Norton and hauls him and Estrada across the border to bury the dead man in a Mexican village, according to his wishes. Estrada gets pretty ripe, and Norton, on the receiving end of a frying pan and a rattlesnake, doesn’t fare much better. Like the carcass, the allegory gets unwieldy, but the diversions along the way keep things lively. As Pete, Jones radiates the same obsessive derangement that makes his movie ingratiating and disturbing.
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