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  • Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, is a deliberately paced, stunningly visualized, and emotionally charged exploration of the early development of mass media celebrity in America. The film riveted my attention for two hours and 40 minutes, and has remained on my mind for several days after my viewing. Although centered on one of the iconic legends of the Old West, it is far beyond an updated reincarnation of the Western. It is an epic allegory about the development of the American cult of celebrity and the effects of this obsession on the individuals caught in its web.

    Visually, the film soars beyond anything that has hit the screen since Conrad Hall's final masterpiece with Road to Perdition. Roger Deakins, the cinematography genius behind The Shawshank Redemption, Kundun, and all the Cohen brothers" films since The Hudsucker Proxy, surpasses his best work. He pulls out all the stops here—intricately orchestrated changes in focus, richly textured colors, dazzling use of light sources, careful manipulations of time, powerfully significant fade-ins and fade-outs, and shots through rain, snow, and rippled old glass—to communicate the story. Deakins' contribution stands out in the railroad train robbery sequence at the beginning of the film. Clearly defined, flickering light sources and deep black shadows create a dazzling, nightmarish vision that haunts the rest of the film. This sequence alone is worth the price of admission.

    The richly textured, historically precise visual aspects of the film bring to mind Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven and Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller. However, instead of the understated, "realistic" performances featured in those films, The Assassination of Jesse James…showcases powerful, yet still realistic performances by an outstanding ensemble cast.

    Sam Rockwell, as the not-too-bright but well-meaning Charley Ford, and Mary-Louise Parker, as Jesse's loving wife, stand out. Yet the film belongs to the two titular leads, both of whom deliver the performances of their careers and create characters filled with disturbing contradictions. Brad Pitt's Jesse James is alternately pitiable and terrifying—an affectionate, loving father, an old-before-his-time sage, an adventurous daredevil, an unrepentant bad boy, and a vicious sociopath. Casey Affleck's Robin Ford is a complex, repellent, and tragic character who challenges the audience's complicity in the undercurrents of the film.

    All in all, this is a great film—not for those seeking the simple pleasures of instant gratification. But definitely worth the attention of those who still believe that movies are an art form.
  • If you have watched the trailer and know this movie is two hours and forty minutes long you know what you are getting into and should not be disappointed. This movie delivers on every level of film making, be it cinematography, acting, or writing. Casey Affleck delivers a fantastic performance in how he portrays Robert Ford as the bright eyed fawning kid in a way so sincere it makes the audience uncomfortable even when it shouldn't. Brad Pitt underplays his part as Jesse James hitting all the right notes while never saying much. Exactly the way one would expect an outlaw to act when they have everything in the world to hide. I can't say the movie didn't FEEL two hours and forty minutes long but I never wanted it to end sooner than it did. I guess I just enjoyed the time I got to spend watching these characters for the full running time.

    I loved this movie. Unfortunately, a long western without action is something seemingly impossible to sell to the public these days. It would be to the advantage of the studio to sell this like The English Patient was sold 10 years ago. Just make people feel like ignorant idiots if they don't like it! As much as it pains me to say it, I think most people don't care enough to bother seeing what makes this movie so great. The only other option to make this a success is to fool them into THINKING they love the movie. I'm really curious how many folks out there that like the movie agree with me here.
  • Though Jesse James through the newspaper accounts of his exploits and through the dime novels of the day was already a legend, his immortality was sealed on April 3, 1882 by the manner of his death. The lengthy title of the film tells all or at least the official version of the story.

    But was that accepted version the real story? For the first time the Ford brothers, Robert and Charley, get their due. As played by Casey Affleck, Robert Ford was a most complex character indeed. Ford is shown for what he was, a moonstruck kid who was brought up on those dime novels and idolized the legendary bandit. The fact that Charley was already riding with the James gang got him into the group.

    After the last job the James gang pulled and the only Ford was ever in on, the Fords kind of attached themselves to Jesse James. Of course the idol is no hero. Brad Pitt plays a most unheroic Jesse.

    Hints of Pitt's interpretation of Jesse's character are found in the classic portrayal of Jesse James by Tyrone Power. Remember when the laconic Henry Fonda as Frank James dresses Jesse down, tells him he's getting mean, meaner every day even with some of his own gang members? Power was showing signs of it, but we see Pitt as Jesse do some really brutal and cruel things. At the same time he's a loving husband to Mary Louise Parker and doting father to his two children.

    As good as Pitt is I think the acting honors go to Casey Affleck. His gradual disillusion with his idol is really something to see on the screen. He becomes really scared of Pitt for reasons I won't reveal, but were definitely sufficient to want him to get Pitt.

    We also get to see the Fords sorry aftermath. Things did not go so well for them. Bob Ford did not quite get the acclaim he would have liked as Jesse James became bigger after death than in life.

    Frank James as played briefly in the beginning is an odd peripheral character in this film. The James brothers did separate some months before Jesse's death. Frank is played by Sam Shepard who has an encounter with young Bob Ford at the beginning of the film and announces to one and all, the kid creeps him out. But Jesse likes having the kid follow him around like a puppy dog to his ultimate regret.

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a very good western and we sure don't see too many of them in these times. It's shot in an unusual color, almost like one of those sepia-tone films that were in vogue for a brief spell. The location shooting was done in western Canada and looks a whole lot more like Missouri then than Missouri does now.
  • Wow, does this film have style or what? The Assassination of Jesse Jamed by the Coward Robert Ford, is one of the longest titles I've ever seen for a film and the movie's run-time follows the same pattern. I have no problem with this. I would sit through a ten hour "Jesse James" because of the excellent tone given out by director Andrew Dominik. The frozen Missouri/ Kansas landscapes are a treat for the eyes. The musical score does its job: to blend into the film so subtly that I cant imagine the images on the screen without it. The narration neither detracts or adds to the tone, although there is one bit of bad editing that confused my friend as to whether the narrator was speaking or a man's voice had been dubbed poorly.

    "Jesse James" delves deep into the inner conflicts and emotions of every character. We live with them, eat with them, and often feel their pain or their confusion. This confusion is often associated with the bi-polar nature of the film's central character, Jesse James, played by none other than Brad Pitt. Casey Affleck delivers a subtle performance here that actually becomes the most effective as the film progresses over its 160 minute running time. I hated Robert Ford for a good portion of the film, thought he was so annoying and clingy that it was a wonder Jesse James didn't kill him within the first day of their complex relationship. But then, as I sat through the so called "gruelling" running time of the film, I learned to feel for him and understand his motives and attraction for Jesse. But ultimately, his childhood, comic book worship of the famous outlaw changes.

    The "style" of the film is evident in the first frame of passing clouds. Roger Deacon's cinematography is the best I've seen since Conrad Hall's work in Road to Perdition, perhaps better. He is definitely winning the Oscar this year, between this and No Country For Old Men. There is a scene involving a train robbery where the visuals and utter style blew me away. The lighting and camera direction becomes more subtle and less noticeable after the train scene, but, does not lessen in quality and pure artistry. There is a topic on the IMDb message boards approaching the topic of whether certain films should be labeled "art films." Well all films are works of art, some are horrendous, some are extraordinary. Well, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an extraordinary work of art.
  • From writer/director Andrew Dominik comes the long titled and lengthy timed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford starring Academy Award nominee Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. The film in so much of its glory has both positive and negative components that make this an uneasy experience at the movies.

    Director Dominik has great control of the picture but when the film went into the editing room the film underwent some problems. The film never keeps the momentum to be an amazing picture. The viewer is connected for the first 15 minutes, then bored for 10, then enchanted for 45, bored for 15, then comes the anticipated climax and you think its over, then it goes on for another half hour. Dominik gives the audience the best understanding of Jesse James possible so we can become better acquainted with him but brings in an slew of different characters that, to be perfectly honest, I don't care that much about. I believe this might be a example of over character development where we get all the aspects of his life but all we want is Jesse.

    Last year, many critics were stating Brad Pitt gave his best performance ever in Babel however, his Jesse James is the best performance of his career by a mile. Pitt wears Jesse like an overgrown coat that you don't want to get rid of. Pitt gives the most tortured, endearing, and frightening performance of the year thus far. He makes the audience so uncomfortable and awkward yet gives off sensitivity and compassion for a very unlikable and ferocious man. If buzz builds, expect Pitt to be a huge contender at the Oscars.

    Casey Affleck, arguably the better actor of the Affleck clan gives the most pathetic, annoying and cowardly performance in the last ten years; and its brilliant. With his deep "admiration" for Jesse, his Robert Ford is engulfed in Jesse's presence and wants enjoy the moments with him, even if he is in fear of him. The finale is truly his show as he stretches out his acting legs and dissolves into a character you can't wait to see off-screen.

    The cast ensemble is a true revelation as each character as over-developed as they might be, all bring a sense of humanity, charisma, and heartbreak to their roles. Sam Rockwell who is on the verge of being a household name and coming his way to a nomination one day plays Charley Ford, brother of Robert, as magnetic as the character demands. Mary Louise Parker, who is one of the better actress' working today, goes nowhere as Jesse's wife. This is a role that is very Academy friendly, and throws it away in a her limited screen time Sam Shepard who plays the older brother of Jesse, shows fear and anguish built up in a man who yearns for emotional freedom from crime. Paul Schneider, Jeremy Renner and Garret Dillahunt all turn in exceptional performances and enhance a cast of big name stars. Expect a possible Screen Actors Cast Ensemble nod for these men.

    Expect a possible and much deserved cinematography nomination for the overdue Roger Deakins, which is the strongest technical aspect of the picture. Also a great score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is a possibility along with great costumes by Patricia Norris and perfect art direction by Janice Blackey-Goodine. The appeal is there for the film as a whole but it leaves us floating a little too often in a long river of bravery, artistry and commendation. Dominik will likely be cited for some breakthrough director awards with the picture popping up during precursors' season.

    Get ready for the assassination everyone knows is coming but no one can prepare for. Never has been a film that tells you the entire story in the title and can still surprise the viewer with beautiful cinematic moments.

    Grade: ***/****
  • I've been thinking of a good way to start my review, I've been pondering many opening sentences, but none of them are close enough to the point, so I've decided to just say that this film is perfect in all aspects. When the credits started to roll I didn't move at all, I sat staring at the screen just thinking about what I just watched. I was trying to understand if what I just saw was really that good, or if I was just thinking it was. The film runs at almost three hours, but never looses your attention for one second. It moves forward through dialog that is poetic, but increasingly haunting at times.

    First off, the performances. Brad Pitt as Jesse Jame makes you feel that he is a vulnerable person, and then at the next second he'll make you completely change all your feelings for him. He doesn't talk much in the film, but is none the less flawless. Casey Affleck as Robert Ford is in his best performance ever, makes you hate him. His character is very shaky, very nervous at times, but always seems confident of what he's doing, whether it's right of wrong. He steals most of the scenes he's in. The biggest surprise however for me was Sam Rockwell as Charley Ford, Robert's brother and Jesse's right hand man. At the beginning of the film, you think that Charley is the stupid brother and that Robert is intelligent beyond any standard Charley could reach. At the end of the film though, the roles switch. You realize that Robert has been making all the dumb decisions, and Charley has been trying to save him by covering them up and usually taking all the crap for it. His last scene was intense and beautiful. One other performance to talk about is Paul Schneider as Dick Liddil, an outlaw womanizer. His performance is somewhat comedic, but in some scenes he can be the backbone for the drama. I can easily see Pitt getting a Best Actor nomination while Affleck pulls in the Supporting Actor for the win.

    The musical score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is on par with Clint Mansell's classic Requiem for a Dream score, if not better. In the films most horrific scenes, the music turns them into something beautiful. You'll want to sit through the end credits just to hear it one more time. The music will draw you back to the film to see it again. The score also fits the tone for the most of the scenes.

    Andrew Dominik's direction is perfect. He uses the camera in such a unique way that you never miss anything that happens. In one of the film's best scenes, he places the camera so that you can only see Pitt's silhouette become meshed into a train's smoke and then reappear seconds later as it pops out. Dominik also wrote the entire script by himself, which really shows how versatile he is. He originally wrote the film into a 3hr and 50min cut that the studio made him trash. I can't wait to see that cut.

    The best thing in the film though, is Roger Deakins' cinematography. That is what you gives the feel for the film. The blurry landscapes, the wheat fields that Pitt gracefully moves through, and the greatest train robbery scene ever on film. It perfectly portrays the landscapes of the old 1800's and everything that took place there. The film is consistent with providing one memorable scene after the other. When the assassination finally happens, you'll be sitting in your chair gawking at the screen in amazement of how sudden it happens.

    I am very proud to say that this is now my favorite film of all time, and my definite choice for Best Picture of the year. It brings new flavor to the art-house scene and never lets you down. I recommend this film to everyone. It truly is a beautiful film.

    I give it a 10 out of 10
  • This almost defines the oft-used term "elegiac Western". It has some of the well-worn themes of Westerns, such as the creation of Western myth vs. the cold, harsh realities. But for some reason, it never feels like anything else I've ever seen. It has a style more reminiscent of Michelangelo Antonioni than any of the great Western filmmakers. It's slow and likes to surround its characters with enormous landscapes that almost swallow them whole. But it's also not averse to close-ups. Director Dominik, who has only made one other film, Chopper, and it's been seven years since then, loves to concentrate on facial expressions, as well as body language (don't know if I've ever seen a film with this level of attention to body language, or maybe it's just not something to which I've ever been lead to pay much attention). The cast is uniformly brilliant. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck are the titular leads, and neither has done as well. Affleck is a revelation. The supporting cast includes Sam Rockwell, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Renner, Garrett Dillahunt and Paul Schneider. Andrew Dominik is the star, though. There have been plenty of successful Westerns over the past couple of decades, but I'd be hard-pressed to name a single one out that so beautifully and completely re-invents the genre. 3:10 to Yuma may well be the big money-making Western of the year, but I think history will recall it as being the year that The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was released. It is the best film of the year so far, and will be hard to top.
  • Casey Affleck's has officially come into his own. Fantastic performance!

    Brad Pitt's performance complex and stunning as usual. Brad does not shy away from the real roles and proves time and time again what a brilliant actor he is.

    Roger Deakins shots are stunning, capturing the true beauty that lies within the Canadian rockies. The artistic shots through the old style glass is fantastic.

    Score is very unorthodox yet amazingly effective.

    The only downside to the film many say is the running time, but I admire that Andrew allowed for the performances of the actors to be the showcase. Many scenes with not a lot of background music, just the intense performances.
  • millerpmiller27 September 2007
    This movie was quite simply AMAZING! Oscar worthy performances from Affleck, Pitt, and Rockwell-Oscar worthy cinematography-Oscar worthy directing. Hate me if you want, but the pacing was perfect. I was glued to my seat. The best part about this movie is that it could have easily been a set up for failure given how slow the story is, but the tension created by each actors performance left me wanting more. The last thing the world "needs" is another typical, gun slinging western. This is by far the best movie I've seen all year.

    P.S. for any little Ben Affleck fans... I just have one thing to say, his brother just made him look like a joke.
  • "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is a handsomely mounted, film-school like study of the last days of the infamous James' Gang by director Andrew Dominik. Growing up in awe of Jesse James (Brad Pitt), Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) finally gets to live out his dream of living side by side with his idol when his brother, Charles (Sam Rockwell) joins the gang. Young Robert quickly learns that the exploits of the murderous train-robbers are far from the exciting flights of fancy he grew up reading about in newspapers and dime-store novels. A series of cowardly acts in the wake of double-crossings and humiliations ultimately lead to the titular event.

    The style of the film is often visually arresting and downright disturbing, especially in the acts of violence, which leave the most gruesome parts slightly off camera, but are frequently shot and framed in such a way as to maximize shock value and leave an uncomfortable feeling of tension in the theater seats. Dominik sometimes relies too heavily on voice-over narration torn straight from the book upon which the film is based leaving us to assume that aside from dreadfully beautiful photography of passing clouds and desolate Midwestern landscapes, he wasn't always sure how he visually wanted to tell the story. This leads to a sometimes snails' pace as the plot unfolds, though the haunting Oscar-worthy cinematography from Roger Deakins and mesmerizing music score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis eventually get under your skin even as the hands of the clock seem to move slower as if stuck in a pretty photograph of a nightmare.

    The acting in the film is superb from all involved. However, the performances often blur the line between caricatured scenery-chewing and emotional nuance (especially from Pitt and Rockwell). While there is some entertainment to be found in the lighter scenes of camaraderie amongst the gang members, the audience never really feels anything for the characters aside from sharing their sense of paranoia and fear knowing that around any corner someone will be betrayed and shot. The film also suffers from some scene stealing cameos from James Carville as the governor hell-bent on catching Jesse and the otherwise lovely Zooey Deschanel, who appears out of nowhere for a few moments about ten minutes after the film should have rightfully ended.

    When the credits finally rolled, I wasn't sure what to make of the film. There's some unforgettable imagery (my personal favorite being the almost surreal depiction of the cloth-masked robbers waiting in the dark woods as the train comes roaring down the tracks), and many commendable artistic elements to be found in the film. If the idea was to leave the audience feeling the era showcased was a tension-riddled and violently lonely existence, then the film succeeded wonderfully. Those seeking a more pure entertainment will most assuredly be left stressed and stretched to their limits.
  • tiercel118 December 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    I have to admit, looking at some of the other comments here I'm not sure if I and other reviewers saw the same movie. I want the mind-dulling 2:40 of my life back.

    Moreso than even your average Hollywood movie, this picture is overlong. Sufficiently overlong, in fact, that it makes the overblown title seem succinct in comparison; it has one of the lowest plot-to-movie-runtime ratios I have ever encountered in cinema. (And at least a film like, say, Koyaanisqatsi, does not pretend to involve plot but is more honestly a painting in motion rather than a photoplay.) I did not come into this movie expecting a typical, shoot-em-up Western. But at the same time, some hint of charisma in the portrayal of Jesse James, some hint or shadow of how one of the most famous outlaws in American history *became* famous and even revered, would have been appropriate here. This movie relies on *telling* us Jesse James is revered and having a simpering Robert Ford hanging at his heels for most of the picture like a spineless puppy dog. There is very little in the character himself to suggest even past greatness or charisma. Russell Crowe's Ben Wade in "3:10 to Yuma" illustrates -- even, and especially outside of the actual shoot-em-up scenes -- the kind of charisma, the personal presence, force of personality, what have you, that make his gang fanatically loyal to him. There is essentially no trace of this from Brad Pitt's Jesse James. If the viewer's knowledge of history and the film's many narrative assurances weren't constantly reminding us that Jesse James was a Very Great Man, you certainly wouldn't guess it from the portrayal of the character here.

    As for the portrayal of Robert Ford, it is overly kind to call the performance nuanced or low-key; it is so low-key that there might as well not even be any music. The character is weak, dull, uninteresting, and shows very little actual development. Essentially, he goes from being a lightly-regarded lightweight who retreats into his Jesse James fantasies to a lightly-regarded lightweight who is spurned by the object of his fantasies to a self-puffed up caricature of himself, cashing in on his notoriety (or rather, as the film might have us believe, the notoriety of Jesse James) before someone finally, mercifully ends his "story" and thus the movie.

    As for the other characters in this film, they are sufficiently even more forgettable that I have literally forgotten them. Large stretches of film yawn, devoid of anything happening, great empty spaces more forsaken than the Western landscapes the cinematography so lovingly dwells upon. Main characters disappear from the screen for long periods of time, and their return is heralded by a lethargic second helping of yet-increased tedium.

    It is true that some of the landscapes and cinematography are quite beautiful -- however, for around the price of an average movie ticket these days, one can instead go to the local chain bookstore and obtain a coffee-table picture book of lovely Western landscapes and/or national parks from the bargain bin. I would have greater respect for the camera-work and locations if they were either the backdrop for an interesting story, or the centerpiece of a more documentary work in which the open spaces themselves starred. This movie is neither -- in fact, the lingering shots seem to exist primarily to pad, both the movie's already-bloated runtime and the equally bloated and self-satisfied egos behind the excretion of this allegedly artistic work.

    In the end, to me, a movie may involve skillful work or some measure of importance beyond the creators' self-importance, but if it fails to somehow intrigue me or draw me in or, perhaps above all, entertain me on some level, then I judge it to be a failure. By this standard, this picture is an utter failure. It bored me with almost perfect uniformity from beginning to the end to such a degree that the only dramatic tension I experienced was whether I would literally fall asleep in the theater from sheer tedium or simply walk out of the theater in pure disgust at wasted time and money. Sadly, I did neither.

    In retrospect, I would rather have had three hours of my life painlessly and instantly excised from my lifespan than have my memories polluted with the remembrance of what is easily one of the most dull and flat-out worst movies I have personally experienced.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Despite some pointless narration (and irrelevantly blurred editing during the scenes with this narration) and the complete mistreatment of one of the finest actresses of the decade, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is easily one of the finest modern films around and certainly one of the best of the year. It plays as a Shakespearean tragedy instead of an outlandish, action-filled western that one would expect when hearing the name Jesse James. Featuring some of the best performances of the decade, the film is a wonderful mix of subtle and emotional heartache with biting realistic tension and a beautifully flawed character that everyone can relate to in some way. Slowly the film builds a tension and knowing dissension towards the inevitable downfall of Mr. James. It's a heartbreaking story of one man trying to be remembered and another knowing a betrayal is quickly coming upon him.

    A contrast between the main characters Jesse James (Brad Pitt) and Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) is presented throughout and really shows the truth that Ford is exactly the same as James, just at an earlier stage in his life. Jesse was the youngest of three boys and rose above all of them to be the most renowned outlaw in American history. He murdered and stole, but gained nothing but respect and admiration from those who heard the stories of his crimes. Of course with all of this fame, and the bounty of men he's had work with him and in his trust, Jesse knew that a betrayal was soon coming. He averted one before, but he can see the end in sight and this time, he is welcoming it instead of trying to fight it.

    This portrayal of James is one of the many things that make this film so brilliant. He's a melancholy, brooding, bipolar and enraged mess. A man who knows the end is approaching, but has come to a point in his life where he doesn't see any reason to try and stop it. We see him for how he truly was, instead of the gun-slinging charismatic outlaw that James is constantly portrayed as time and time again. This deeply heartbreaking man is perfectly personified by Pitt's award-worthy performance. We see a side of the light, breezy Brad Pitt that I personally could never have imagined. He presents so much pain and anguish behind those steely blues, that my heart stopped every time he started intently with his eyes ever so lightly filling with tears.

    I have no hesitation in calling Robert Ford the most tragic character in cinematic history. He is the youngest of five brothers, and all day he gets picked on and disrespected so when he sees another man who's the youngest of a number of brothers, he begins to idolize him. When he finally gets the chance to meet his hero, and work alongside him, his tendency to give a bad first impression (albeit he is a bit eerie with his strong admiration of the James boys) leads to more humiliation from the man he considered to be everything he wanted to grow up into. Obviously this leads the young man into spite and bitter insecurity. He becomes a wreck, but in this state of depression he is able to finally realize his true feelings and express them to the world. Due to this, Bob begins to get more respect and fear from those around him, and the Sheriff decides to capitalize on this bitterness by enlisting Bob in a sort-of undercover mission to arrest James, though everyone knows there is no way to arrest the man. It can only end in the death of one of the men.

    Of course the title, and any kind of history book, reveals who the dead man is and Ford assumes that this will lead to him becoming a legend in the same way that Jesse was. An icon on the morally right side, instead of as a criminal. However he is gravely wrong and he's met with more disrespect and tales of him being the biggest coward in American history to match Jesse's status as the biggest and most respected criminal. James was an icon and Ford was just the snake in the grass who stabbed him in the back. This undoubtedly brings more depression to Robert; he killed his hero for fame and was forever remembered as a coward who betrayed an icon. And then another man gets the idea that Robert had; he was going to murder someone infamous in order to be remembered and with this second murder ends the tragedy that is Robert Ford's life. The man who wanted nothing more than to be Jesse James, and became his killer.

    Casey Affleck's performance is the stuff of cinematic legend. His dynamic brilliance, deeply emotional strength and powerful absorption into this fatally flawed character combine to create what is easily one of the best performances I've ever seen and quite simply the best performance of the year so far. I've been a fan of this underrated genius for a long time now, and this performance is his best by far and is sure to get him a lot of attention come awards season; I could even see an Oscar in his future. He completely steals the show from Pitt, who still turns in an excellent portrayal, and perfectly embodies a character who just breaks my heart. Casey creates such a nice demeanor and personality for this dangerously awkward young man that makes him one of the most complex and, as I said before, easily the most tragic character in the history of film in my eyes. A true revelation to modern acting and proof that when you get the right role in the right film, you can take it all the way to the top.
  • This was a very good movie and I would definitely recommend it but it is 2 hours and 40 minutes with it being slow at times. Still it has some great acting, musical score, cinematography with good directing.

    Casey Affleck has had a great year in acting with this movie and Gone Baby Gone. He gives such a deep, authentic and complex performance you could say he deserved an Oscar for it . He has what his brother Ben Affleck does not have, dedication to the character and the meanings and purpose they have within them. When I think about his performances and roles in both Gone Baby Gone and this really makes me wonder about myself and my character. Brad Pitt gave a very interesting performance as well but I still did not find it to be that great. At times he was a bit over the top but this is not to say that he was not good.

    What really transformed this movie was the cinematography and directing. The directing and cinematography really delivered on what the purpose of this movie is. It helped you understand the feelings, personalities but most of all the complexities of all the characters involved in the story. The cinematography and music fused together and really made me get a feel for the story and the movie.

    In a way this movie reflects our society today. The message of this movie was really deep and meaningful saying that everyone plays a role in society even if you don't like your role that is what you are. The public determines your destiny and image. It depicts gang life and how betrayal is the worst act that can be committed and in which loyalty is a must even if you know longer have relations with it. It shows how there always has to be a necessary evil or a scape goat no matter what effect it has on people because people do not want to blame themselves they want to blame others instead. This is movie happens to take place in the west rather than it being a western. This movie/story tries to tell us something that is deeply embedded in our minds and in our society. It displays what we think of ourselves is drastically different of the image of ourselves from other people.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In what could be my favorite film name of all-time, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is much more than its superfluous moniker. From its bloated runtime to its slow, methodical pace, Andrew Dominik's epic tale contains an inner beauty that allows for all the pretensions one seems to associate with it. Dominik is unrelenting on his quest to tell the story the way he wants it told, never compromising by cutting scenes or shortening the name so it will fit on theatre marquees. The film even seems to have been languishing in the doldrums for over a year before finally seeing the light of day. Maybe the time was spent because no one would distribute it without changes, and if that is so, I'm glad to have waited for its introduction. Had anything been compromised, I don't think I would have enjoyed my time nearly as much. Do not expect the wild west or gun fights at every corner. This is not a tale of excess or young guns, but instead one of paranoia, suspicion, friendship, and betrayal from all sides.

    I thought I would be seeing James during his heydays of robbery and murder, eventually meeting his demise at the hands of one of his crew. Instead, we are introduced to the legend just before his final night ride with brother Frank. It is the last train robbery he undertook, before attempting to retire home with his wife and kids, that he meets the Ford brothers and their ragtag degenerate friends. James is no longer as God-like as he might once have been. A shell of his former self, he is constantly uprooting his family, children who don't even know his real name, in fear of capture by the Pinkertons. Always paranoid and untrusting of those around him, after all his brother has retired and his normal crew all gone, jailed, or dead, James begins to fear for his safety. By riding to cleanse himself of those that may be conspiring against him, he begins a journey that will take him back into the friendship of Robert and Charlie Ford. Whether from depression caused by the memories of all he has done or an escalation of the malice and crazed disposition that allowed him to do it, this reunion for a series of planned bank robberies finally leads to his end.

    Dominik's film is filled to the brim with nuance and subtlety. At every turn we are even quiet moments of the landscape and metered prose of speech, slowly contemplated and released into conversation. Everything is orchestrated with great care and each frame a thing of beauty. The film must have been storyboarded like crazy because the compositions of each scene is balanced and gorgeous to behold. From the extreme close-ups, the smoke-laden atmosphere, and the visions from behind period-aged impure glass, Dominik has taken painstaking care in making sure each second is perfect. Even the narrated moments telling of James' past are vignetted and blurred to give a sense of age and dream-state. Everything is deliberately timed, both enhancing the period being portrayed and adding to the mood and almost nonexistent changes in mental disposition as the wheels turn inside each character's head.

    All the acting on screen is top-notch. Brad Pitt really shows how good he is as the man behind the stories. This is a time of instability for him as his state of mind causes uncontrollable outbursts of violence followed by fits of laughter at the lapse in control. He realizes that he is not himself anymore and it is this knowledge of his own fallibility that makes him even more cautious of what is happening all around him. Did he deserve the best actor award at Venice this year? I don't know. He is very good, possibly close to his best, however, he was overshadowed, to me, by costar Casey Affleck's Robert Ford. He truly shines as the young kid able to ride alongside his idol only to be shot down as strange and queer. His joy, expressed very openly to his hero, comes at a very bad time. Just as James starts to look at everyone more carefully, in comes this kid with a dangerous obsession. As Pitt says before sending Ford away, "I can't tell if you want to be like me, or be me." Affleck's performance is one of the years best. The times when he must try and hide the rage bottled up inside while his dreams of being the James Brother's sidekick shatter are tough to watch. From this showing, Ford was no coward, but a man tired of being kicked while he was down. Perhaps the act of murder itself was cowardly, but only because of the circumstances surrounding it. Ford was working for the sheriff in order to capture the criminal, but when the opportunity presented itself, when James finally realized what was to happen, you can't help feel sorry for the 20-year old has he wrestles with what is about to transpire.

    I applaud Dominik for having the courage to create something that is by no means a bankable commodity. For every person that goes to see Brad Pitt's new movie, there will be at least three that scoff at the almost three-hour duration and slow unfolding of plot. Either way, this film is a masterpiece to behold, a work of art encapsulating a moment of history. Even the epilogue, of what happens to Ford after the assassination, helps shape the motivations for all that transpired during the course of the film. It never feels boring and it never shies from the weight it carries on its shoulders. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is simply something that needs to be seen to understand the effect it has, and that experience should be at the theatre so its composition and visual splendor can be viewed in all its glory.
  • This is a sprawling and glamorous Western but overlong. Packs colorful scenarios, slow-moving pace and slick edition. Wonderful cinematography by Roger Deakins and atmospheric musical score by Nick Cave. The motion picture is well realized by Andrew Dominik who displays enough off-beat touches to keep things interesting.

    Adding more details over the largely described on the movie, deeds happened of the following way : Later events led disaster on 6 September 1876 in which Jesse(Brad Pitt) and Frank James(Sam Shepard) with three younger Younger brothers attempted a bank robbery at Northfield , Minnesota, only Jesse and Frank got clean away to live quietly for several years under assumed names , Jesse as J.D. Howard and Frank as B.J. Woodson. In 1879 they robbed a train and another one in 1881, in the latter crime a conductor and a passenger were killed. Governor of Missouri raised rewards of 10.000 dollars each for the James boys, dead or alive. On 3 April 1882 Bob Ford, a new member , treacherously shot Jessse dead in the back of the head in his home at St Joseph, Missouri where Jesse was living along with his wife(Mary Louise Parker) and sons. Frank surrendered six months later , he stood trial and was acquitted. He gave up his criminal ways and lived a respectable life until he died aged seventy-two in 1915. Robert Ford(1861-92) made his mark on the history as the man who killed Jesse James. It was his claim to fame. Bob(Ben Affleck) and his brother Charlie (Sam Rockwell) were new recruits to Jesse's gang in 1881 and when a reward was offered for Jesse and Frank, dead or alive, the brothers Ford made a secret agreement with Governor to assassinate the outlaw. For the rest of his life Ford was reviled for the manner in which he had killed Jesse , whose gravestone bore the words: ¨Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here¨. Forced by public opinion to leave Missouri , Bob wandered through the old West , taunted by the words of the popular song : ¨The dirty little coward, who was shot Mr Howard, has laid poor Jesse in his grave¨ .

    Others films about this legendary outlaw are : The classic version (1939) titled ¨Jesse James(1939)¨ with Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda, ¨The return of Frank james(1950) by Fritz Lang with Henry Fonda ; ¨I shot Jesse James¨by Samuel Fuller with John Ireland as Bob Ford ; ¨Jesse James vs the Dalton(1954)¨ by William Castle with John Ireland, ¨The true story of Jesse James¨ by Nicholas Ray with Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Every now and then, in the realms of western / period dramas a very special film comes along. This is such a film. It's haunting, compelling, thought provoking, (dare I say) conversation inducing - a visual tour-De-force with stunning landscapes, emotive lighting and classic film-making techniques all rolled into one. It's been a long time since a film enveloped me in the way Andrew Dominic managed to take me right inside the carriage of the train the characters were robbing on screen. But that's just a small part of the visceral, assured strength of a film that takes its time unfolding and trusts in the performances of a well rounded, tight, cast. Yes, it was Brad Pitt who won the award at Venice, and he's competent within the range of his ability - by which I mean I've seen him give performances like this before, and he is improving with age ... but the truly subtle, charismatic and deft performance comes from Casey Affleck - his is an Oscar-worthy performance and key to the emotional success of the film. All other supporting actors are seasoned character actors.

    There are some disappointments in the film too - mostly a couple of (in my opinion) bad decisions. The first is the voice over narration which is superfluous, and devaluing to the flow of the film, and the second - more serious problem - is the placement of the 'wrap up' scenes which explore Robert Ford's life after he assassinates Jesse James. The movie was over when James was shot dead. These scenes were unnecessary or at best should have been handled earlier in the story.

    Regardless, Andrew Dominic's debut feature in America - like his Australian debut 'Chopper', marks him as a exceptional talent, and I for one hope to see Casey Affleck in progressively more challenging roles.

    Though 3.10 to Yuma has broader appeal, this film is a more significant cinematic achievement.
  • This is a really amazing film. All the pieces - props, costume, camera-work, script, and acting - fit together as well as the finely crafted parts of a nickel-plated revolver. I was surprised I'd not heard more about it.

    The film tells the story of the James Gang and specifically the fatal relationship of Jesse James and Robert Ford. During the course of the action we see darkness and light in everyone, even the "coward." Care is taken to finely pare into the psyches of these Outlaws and the cold world they walk in. I think I saw just about every emotion there is to have in these men and we can almost understand, even if we can't accept, what moves them in their deadly paths.

    Pitt is both iconic and vulnerable - beautiful and frightening as Jesse James, a robber and killer who hoists up a reputation of fearless boss on one shoulder and charming folk hero on another. His character's movement through peril and praise reminds one of the great gangster characters from Scorsese's work, with an added rawness that only Pitt and a few others can genuinely summon. His fatalism is also quite entrancing and subtly masterful.

    Affleck is truly mesmerizing as a born misfit who is so uncomfortable in this world around him, that his neuroses, if they can be called that, really get into your skin. I was reminded of Joaquin Phoenix's role as Comodus, but it's even more intense and yet so very believable. As the audience, I was torn between pitying the character, being utterly disappointed in him, and just wanting him to somehow be better. And the script's maturity really comes into play with this character. No one is beyond reproach, understanding, or grim fate.

    I'd say that's the main theme here: fate.

    There's no easy formula. No one simply "gets what's coming to them." There are no simple villains or heroes. There's just life and the actions taken and the echoes of those actions and eventually, an end. It transcends any petty ideas of justice or even legend. It takes a full snapshot of a beautiful and grim reality and lets us just take it in, like a corpse on ice. Profound by presentation alone.
  • It's hard to imagine this film being much of a success, despite starring Brad Pitt. It's a long-haul: slow-moving, intensely melancholic and sombre, dealing in grey-paletted landscapes and skyscapes, pauses, silences, things unsaid as much as things said. Still, it's been critically successful, and it address questions pertinent to today's society. Fame. Hero worship. The desire to be someone else, as an escape from the drudgery of your own life ("do you want to be like me, or do you want to be me?"). The realisation that that someone else is "just a man," just like you, and that he perhaps struggles with the same sense of drudgery and hopelessness, as you do.

    Notably, the film conveys a sense of the drudgery and sheer hardship of life in the west that many films miss, and, unlike most other westerns (with the exception of 'True Grit'), the dialogue often feels authentic – slightly grandiose, perhaps stilted to our ears – almost Elizabethan; slow, deliberate, unusual, and just right.

    Roger Ebert comments on the bleak emptiness of the landscape (like McCabe and Mrs Miller, it was shot in Canada- all huge grey skies, desolate waving wheat-fields, snow, ice, and mud), and how, because of this, because "the land is so empty, it creates a vacuum demanding men to become legends." As in the Russian drama 'The Return', the landscape becomes almost a character, or at least a driving force which partially dictates why the characters behave how they do and what courses of action they take.

    I say this partly because no explanation is sought, or offered, by anyone in the film, for the gang's actions. This is simply what they do - perhaps to avoid the drudgery of working in a grocery store, like Bob, or making shoes, as Frank suggests he will do; perhaps for the money, to give themselves a chance of a fuller life. Perhaps simply because, in this environment, doing anything feels almost like a random act. The film is detached from the characters, and the characters are detached from themselves. At one point, Jesse speaks about watching himself from outside: "I look at my red hands and my mean face... and I wonder 'bout that man that's gone so wrong." The state governor comments that, while some say Jesse's crimes are revenge on Republicans and people who wronged his family, his victims didn't seem to be chosen on account of their political persuasion. In other words, he's no political rebel. He's just an outlaw, who does what he does - who knows why? That's not important to the governor. He wants the man captured, not to understand his motivation. The film should go beyond his concerns though, and examine the latter..shouldn't't it? Doesn't it?

    I'm not convinced that it does, and more context of the sort hinted at in the governor's two or three lines might have helped. For all the film's desire for historical accuracy in detail, in the bigger picture it's rather sketchy. I'll return to these criticisms later.

    But, still, it's a film easy to admire, for several reasons: the use of space, and silence, building tension in long, drawn-out dinner-table conversations. The inexorable build toward death, like Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West', a dance of death - or a slow, deliberately paced walk towards it. It feels like something winding down: everyone is aware of impending confrontation, but unable to escape from it. People face their deaths with stoicism, as if this is what fate has dictated for them, as if it is their role to play: the gang member Pitt shoots in the back for real, or imagined betrayal; James himself, who glimpses his assassin in a mirror but makes no attempt to dodge the bullet's path.

    It will probably be admired most for its performances: Casey Affleck's insinuating, awkward hero-worshipper, at once understandable and pitiable - bullied, insecure, unloved - and at once somewhat contemptible, annoying and disturbing. Pitt's James - aloof, detached: melancholy, for no clear reason, at one point he hints at his desire for death, for suicide. "Once you've looked over the other side, you'll never want to go back into your body," he says. Or something of the sort. Then shoots holes into the ice.

    Ultimately however, despite this admiration, it's hard to like, much less love. It is characterised by the same aloofness I've just discussed in its protagonist. Jesse's occasional mentions of the soul raise the possibility of a deeper philosophical strain (which might be somewhat out of place, given the dour 'factual', 'realistic' nature of the film, such as the vomit that smears Bob Ford's suit when he falls over on a saloon floor)- but it remains merely a suggestion, adding to a vague impression of some sort of inexplicable sadness. Of course, James is not simple: a psychotic family man. But there's a lack of insight into his character, and the other characters in the film. They seem to remain ciphers who simply exist, rather than fully fledged human beings who act. James' family seems barely to exist, except for occasional shots to show that he has one. The film observes dislikeable characters doing dislikable things; the audience is left to judge, but are not given that much to base their judgements on, despite the slow pace. The film's attitude to its legendary titular character is unclear: do we admire him? He's a cold-blooded murderer - surely just as much of a coward as Bob Ford. Or is he let off the hook because he's Brad Pitt, because he's brooding and handsome and has a family? Ultimately, the film is indifferent - neither tragic nor exciting, just generally glum, it gives the impression of saying more than it actually does. It had the potential to be more than it is, and is thus an interesting, perhaps necessary, but flawed movie.
  • "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" says it all, but it has even more than meets the eye. Not only is the title a spoiler, but it sums up the two main characters. JESSE JAMES is in BIG BOLD letters like the legend he is while Robert Ford is hardly noticed underneath his name with the publicly attached "coward" in front it. The title allows us to sit back and enjoy the journey of Robert Ford in his quest to become famous, and Jesse James' journey into infamy and legendary myth.

    The film stars Brad Pitt as the notorious Jesse James. Brad Pitt delivers an incredible performance. This may be his crowing achievement along with the character, Tyler Durden, which he played to perfection in "Fight Club." He plays Jesse James like he's bipolar so we never know what he's thinking, or what he's capable of doing at any given minute under any given circumstance. One minute he's jovial, and the next he's ripping at Robert Ford's head as he presses a knife to his throat with a demented look in his eyes just screaming of a homicidal maniac. Brad Pitt doesn't play him perfectly and some will notice the infamous Tyler Durden laugh peeking through, but it's a great performance that is thoroughly layered with deep, dark and buried emotions. It is worthy of a nomination at the very least. Jesse James' past and his actions seem to haunt him. Pitt plays a man suffering from a deep and very dark depression as he tries to hide his inner demons with good nature and laughter. Jesse James always knows what's going on. He's very cerebral in his actions. He's like a homicide detective with his carefully intimidating probing of terrified subjects as he looks for answers, but finds nothing but lies. James finds himself all alone surrounded by people that are looking to get paid off by giving him up to the law. He is always on the run and we gradually see him become tired of running and tired of living the way he is. His insomnia keeps him up at all hours as he lives in fear and paranoia. The assassination scene, one of the best scenes in the film, is incredible and shockingly suspenseful, as well as chilling. The pacing in that scene is deliberate and thought provoking, which will leave you thinking about it long after you see it.

    Casey Affleck plays the "coward," Robert Ford. He is surly Oscar worthy here and undoubtedly gives the performance of his lifetime in a career year - "Gone Baby Gone". He plays Robert Ford as a weird, meticulous, well intentioned admirer of Jesse James thrust into his inner circle. He's the youngest brother of five boys. He's the weak one. He's the one always made fun of. He's always overlooked or looked down upon. Robert Ford is an uncomfortable person to be around, and Affleck plays him perfectly as a very odd young man with an obsession of Jesse James + the James gang that cross over boundaries of more than just admiration. He wants to be so much apart of that gang that, that's all he has ever wanted since he was a young child reading the fascinating stories of the James gang, and his legendary idol, Jesse James. He wants the fame and the respect that Jesse has, and he wants to be apart of something grand. He wants to know what it feels like to be Jesse James; in his shoes. As he joins the gang he starts to feel the pressure of Jesse James, and his feelings of the man start to change. When Robert Ford is sent to capture and arrest Jesse James that is when Jesse James becomes haunting as he watches his every move, and death seems immanent to both Robert Ford and his brother, Charley (Sam Rockwell). Robert Ford becomes every bit as famous after the murder as James was, then the people stop caring and they start hating. The final act of the film may be the most impressive since we see the kind of backfire stardom can have on you in a celebrity obsessed culture - even in the late 19th century.

    The journey leading to the assassination and the incredible acting is something to truly admire and become utterly fascinated to watch unfold. The acting was just incredible even with some of the smaller parts, especially, with the lying and conniving, Charley Ford, or the funny, smart and very creepy, Dick Liddil (Paul Schneider). The acting on a whole was fantastic and no one upstaged anyone. The four main characters are all fantastic and all very different. The cinematography was absolutely beautiful and mesmerizing; this is some of the greatest film has to offer. The scenery is vast and breathtaking. The way some of the images are shot with blurred and distorted edges gives the audience the same feelings of the blurred perceptions between myth and fact. There are several shots through distorted windows giving a blurred outlook on this folklore world that Dominik creates. We never really are sure if something happened this way since the truth has been lost in myth and legend.

    The set and costume designs were fantastic along with the argot. It feels as if you have been transported back to the late 1880s. It's a slow character study and wonderful cinematic piece of art. The score is both beautiful and haunting matching the tone of the film to perfection. This is one of the decades best films. Andrew Dominik deserves a lot of credit for this masterpiece.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The title of the film "Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford" says almost everything about the film, almost. But what it doesn't say is that Jesse James gets assassinated or murdered more than once. Jesse James embodied this larger than life Robinhood figure who was a criminal by the very definition of it and a cold blooded killer when he had to be one, but also by some accounts a committed family man who generously distributed the usurped wealth to the needy. Now, this perception may or may not be tenable, but it certainly appeals to a primal aspect of most human beings who strive for that contradiction of winning, ruthlessness, courage and fame, yet want this image of kindness, generosity and some inherent sense of righteousness. All this becomes even more aspirational when the state has failed for the people. James's folklore image could be a product of some of these factors.

    Robert Ford ( Casey Affleck ) was a product of the times, a young 20 year old smitten by the image of James, collects every possible piece of literature mystifying the glamorous outlaw as he and his brother join the gang. His "fascination" with Jesse is akin to comic book fanatic idolizing his super hero, except maybe Ford had a certain innate infatuation which maybe not all would share. You want to believe that the ideal you idolize is real. There is something pure about it, not obscured by the ambiguous ideas of morality or decency. But the image is castigated when it confronts reality. This is where Jesse James gets murdered many times over in Ford's mind. As he watches, James sit alone and awkward as his brother leaves, as he sees James despondent with the failed train robbery, as James becomes increasingly paranoid, insecure and moody during his final days. But more importantly, Ford feels neglected by Jesse or not appreciated enough. Maybe all those conversation he had in his mind with Jesse as he explains to him the 12 things he had in common with him did not go according to plan when it actually materializes.

    Every encounter with Jesse probably killed some part of him in Ford's mind, which by his own confession "he lost some curiosity over the years" and as he conveys to his brother of his motive to kill James "He is just a human being". I bet part of Ford also died during this time since all he wanted to do or be was Jesse James "You want to be like me or you want to be me". All the players in this dance of death were doomed from the beginning. Jesse James was in his final few days reviewing his life, trying to protect his family or cut off the possible trails but losing his peace of mind. By the end, he just wanted to be put out of his misery. Better to die as a mystical hero betrayed by one of his own which will only enhance the legacy than be caught and reduced to a trial of an average Joe. Ford had committed the act even before he pulled the trigger, Jesse was no longer the same for him. However, what he probably did not foresee, was that people still held James as the Robinhood figure and he would antagonizing them all, leading to his own end. Probably, he too wanted to end his misery, since he would only be the guy who killed Jesse James, nothing more. I feel for for him.

    Andrew Dominik is one of the great talents of modern cinema who exploded on the scene with "Chopper", another story of a glamorous criminal although told in completely different tone. By his own admission he wanted to make the film, in a Terrence Mallick narrative with greater focus on tone, on images, on time and space. The film is contemplative and meditative. You can see the characters journey to the point they have to they were meant to. I shudder to think that there has been over evocative and sublime cinematography in recent years as one by Roger Deakins here. The Train Robbery sequence, as the light strikes through the dark frame reflecting from the surrounding trees will be the legacy of this great film. And lastly the score is haunting and evocative like the images almost transporting you in time amidst the snow clad mountains.

    One of my all time favorites.
  • ..by everyone associated with this movie.

    Honestly, I cannot believe how people can even remotely like this movie. I'd prefer getting my nails pulled out than having to sit through this nightmare again.

    I even gave this film a chance, because of all the good criticisms it had got, so i sat through it in hope of something good in the end. When that didn't happen, i just got mad because of the 160 minutes of my life that is now gone forever.

    This "movie" should have been marketed as an educational historic documentary, and split up into several episodes for the discovery channel or something. It certainly wasn't entertainment.
  • dubricus3 October 2010
    1. The film has a good, quite authentic look to it - at least as far as props, costumes, sets, etc. The sound of the old, wood-frame houses was right on. The landscapes are obviously not where they are supposed to be, but that follows an old tradition in Westerns. Canadian locations have become very identifiable & are obviously not Missouri nor any adjoining states.

    2. Brad Pitt made a good Jesse James. I know Jesse's photos quite well & was able to forget them. Mr. Pitt did his best to be enigmatic - I don't know if that was intentional in his portrayal of Jesse or simply because he didn't know how else he could carry on through this script.

    3. The rest of the cast did as well as they could. Sam Shepherd seemed a bit old for Frank James, but then I always thought that Frank looked old for his age in the few photos that exist.

    4. Now for the bad part - it is as slow moving as molasses in winter.

    5. Almost every film that has extensive voice-over explanations has had post-production problems. When it's all been put together, they've found that the explanations are needed, because the film had become a muddle.

    Having been a professional genealogist who has researched Jesse Woodson James & family & who has worked with celebrities, I understand what they were trying to do with this. In an oblique way they were using Bob Ford as "stalker" ... as well as exploring Jesse's emotional-mental issues (which included drug use) & the various family connections that that are often neglected. It is rare that any film for popular consumption has mentioned the murder of Jesse's favorite cousin, Woodson Hite, by the Fords. It also often goes unmentioned that there was a lot of blood relationship amongst these various outlaw clans. Therefore, there were family issues, as well as the historical background that is more commonly known.

    I commend them for the attempt, but such an exploration was perhaps better left to print. Despite knowing most of the story already, I found it almost impossible to follow. Perhaps, the problem was that it simply could not retain my interest enough to follow it. Sometimes, a work that is very literary, with lots of explanation & internal action, but little real physical action, can be impossible to transpose to film. I suspect that is what happened.

    I really wanted to like this film, but sad to say, I didn't. Perhaps one day a mini-series will do justice to the complexity of these people & their era & will still manage to be entertaining.
  • jimmylee-121 January 2009
    I'm all for an oater. Huge fan of John Wayne, John Ford, Gary Cooper. And I'm all for a movie on Jesse James. I've got family from Missouri and relatives inappropriately named for him during the reconstruction.

    But movie gods, how long are we expected to watch one mentally unstable man wander around tormenting half wits? Here's how I think it's supposed to work: the movie is shorter than the book, and, when it comes to biographies and histories, the book is shorter than the actual event itself. And, since it's live action (this is the most important thing), we're supposed to be entertained. Compared to this, Lawrence of Arabia was a stroll, and Dr. Zhivago a short story. This movie was endless and DULLER than third-generation nylon stockings.

    All credit to Brad Pitt for successfully making this character thoroughly unlikable, since we know from Devil's Own he can make the bad guys look somewhat charming with a bad accent. And James' character here is the closest to reality - best since The Long Riders (and that was the best until now, far better than some of the laughable depictions seen in The Outlaw and the like).

    But with Jesse as one endlessly scary dude, I spent most of the movie waiting for the promised old west justice and wishing I had brought my own six shooter so I could put an end to my misery.

    No nice daffodils or tulips, no sand dunes - nothing to distract me while I'm waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Oh, and since there was nothing to wax lyrical about, I admired everyone's full mouth of beautiful clean teeth (there's historical accuracy for you).

    Since we all know what happened to Jesse, the only surprise is why I sat through the whole damn film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is truly amazing how a first rate cast and wonderful cinematography can combine to provide two and a half hours of absolute boredom, and contribute nothing to one's knowledge of the story which it is purportedly about. Not a moment of enjoyment exists in this film! First, none of the characters are discernible from each other, except for Jesse and Bob. This includes the women, who are easily confused with each other. Casey Affleck's Bob Ford is a sniveling dolt, with no redeeming qualities. Perhaps that is how it should be, but it makes for dull cinema. Affleck's annoying voice and lack of acting ability make it painful whenever he is on screen.

    We are never informed why anyone is doing anything or what that anything might be. We don't know why they are shooting each other, or why they are not shooting each other. It is the director who should be shot.

    Brad Pitt turns in the only performance of note, with Sam Shepard also making a brief attempt to help the movie with his taciturn presence. Neither Brad or Sam can save this moldering turkey. The movie is at least a half hour too long, maybe an hour (or maybe two and a half hours!).

    All I was thinking for the whole time I watched it was, Gee, I'm glad I didn't pay $10 to see this crap.
  • ingrg24 January 2008
    1/10
    Yawn
    Warning: Spoilers
    A somewhat long and self indulged view of the last days of Jesse James. If you enjoy looking at clouds and out farmhouse windows then this is the film for you.

    If you require some entertainment and a shadow of a plot give this one a wide berth. I am sure that there is a reason for the film lasting close to 3 hours other than some bizarre infatuation with extremely slow horse riding scenes.

    I should have guessed with the unfeasible amount of words in the title that this would be a film best avoiding, wondering how they manage to fit all the title on one poster is probably a better way to spend ones evening. I am sure this will win numerous awards, and will allow for plenty of back slapping over cocktails.
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