Not Quite a Buried Treasure
When Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo) is shot dead and buried in the desert of West Texas his body is eventually discovered with two slugs in it and after examination is buried in the town cemetery. Ranch foreman Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones) feels obliged to take Estrada's body back to Mexico to be buried and so after kidnapping a border patrolman he has been told killed Estrada he forces him to dig up the body and help him take the body back by mule to Mexico.
"The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" is one of those movies which garners praise in some corners but leaves others utterly bewildered by what others see in it. I am kind of in the latter category as for me I tend to prefer my entertainment more straight forwards and this is not straight forwards despite the synopsis sounding quite simple. The trouble is partly that the narrative jumps back and forth from Pete's friendship with Estrada to his actions following his friend's death. It flits between the times so often that it isn't always easy to follow especially during the first third of the movie.
What also doesn't help matters is that we get some characters tossed at us with little in a way of an introduction. Eventually we work out how they end up interconnecting via the flashbacks but it contributes to the movie feeling a little bit all over the place especially during the opening scenes. In a word actor and director Tommy Lee Jones instils this movie with an intentional abruptness which you will either like or, well hate is a strong word but at times it comes close.
Now in fairness Tommy Lee Jones clearly had a vision for "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" and he certainly delivers some punchy scenes from those involving sex to scenes involving a dead body. And in truth after a while the movie does start to come together and make sense but the flitting back and forth as well as the intentional mystery and almost quirkiness of the characters as well as their actions makes it at times seriously hard work and as a whole uneven.
What this all boils down to is that "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" didn't entertain me as much as it has others and found it often hard work. But at the same time it is the sort of movie which if you stick with it does start to come together and make sense.