Cowboys on familiar trail

Jones' 'Burials' offers a different take on male bonding

For anyone who wants to see “Brokeback Mountain” without the sex, try Tommy Lee Jones‘ directorial debut, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” which Sony Pictures Classics opened earlier this month in the U.S.

Pic is about two cowboys, played by Jones and Julio Cedillo, who fall in deep, platonic rapture. They aren’t gay and they pick up women together, but the adoration transcends normal dudeness.

Jones’ character is so torn up when his friend is murdered that he carts the decomposing corpse back to Mexico via horse, ignoring the gangrene as if it were so much fairy dust. Barry Pepper plays the murdering border patrolman.

“Three Burials” was the darling of Cannes last year — with Jones picking up kudo actor and Guillermo Arriaga nabbing screenplay — but it failed to gain awards steam Stateside.

Film made an impressive $4.14 million in France, $254,000 more in Greece and $328,000 in Belgium, for an overseas cume of $4.7 million. In the U.S., pic has made $237,000 during its limited run so far, with some of that take coming from an Oscar-qualifying run in December.

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