Tommy Lee Jones's second film as a director challenges lazy caricatures of the Wild West to produce an elegiac, visually rhapsodic portrait of 19th century America. Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) is a homesteader in a small rural community who agrees to take three troubled souls back east to their families. She is accompanied by George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), albeit initially against his will. He grows to admire Mary and becomes protective of his charges.