Mary Bee (Hilary Swank) is, quite obviously, not a typical woman of the times. George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) is not a typical man, but a deserter and a drifter who Mary Bee finds wailing in his long johns, waiting for his own horse to hang him. The two form a motley pair tasked with transporting crazy women in The Homesman (2014). What Mary Bee lacks in social norms and female conventions, she makes up for in resolve and determination. George’s lifestyle has equipped him with an odd sort of skills and a varying sense of duty, but he owes his life to Mary Bee, and he does own up to that debt.
Sheila O'Malley on RogerEbert.com says, “Briggs is a comic figure in the beginning, a drawling and inappropriately insouciant Walter Brennan-type character, garrulous and careless, demanding Mary Bee buy him a jug of whiskey for the ride. The dynamic between Briggs and pious straight-talking spinster is one of the pleasures of the film. It almost becomes a classic buddy picture. Both characters are outlaws. Neither of them fit into "normal" society. Both of them are individualists, who value strength, who have strength, but who will always be just a little bit on the periphery of accepted norms. This could be seen as a tragedy for them; it could be seen as a triumph. The film does not come down on either side. The situation is not "either/or." It is "both/and."
Both characters are ultimately changed by their journey, for better or for worse., but both etch their place as permanent outsiders by the end of the story.