The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

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Time Out says

Fri Oct 12 2007

Where does criminality end and celebrity begin is the question posed by Australian director Andrew Dominik whose stunning second film – after 2000’s excellent (and not entirely dissimilar) ‘Chopper’ – sets the Western genre barn ablaze to deliver a gripping, Gothic tête à tête between two of American history’s most morally perplexing folk heroes. Kicking off with an expertly choreographed train robbery which acts as both a narrative nub and tonal barometer for the director’s bucolic, mournful mise en scene and script, the film then ruefully traces the interlocking paths of Jesse James and his young admirer Robert Ford. Early word suggested that Casey Affleck’s Ford was the man to keep an eye on come awards season, but this is unquestionably Pitt’s film, his James insouciantly radiating a piercing, unreadable intensity redolent of Joe Pesci’s work with Scorsese, a truly enigmatic presence constantly obscured behind warped glass, thick smoke, or even his own visibly battered visage. Though, in the end, the film’s main intention is to have you query every element of its mischievous title (and you probably will), it’s a journey of immense emotional foreboding and, flabby coda aside, a red-raw classic.
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LiveReviews|20
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Galen Scott

This film deserves several Acadamy Awards, namely for best actor in a leading role, best supporting actor, best cinematography, and best picture. Even the soundtrack should have been considered for an Oscar. I'm not sure what the Acadamy's members were thinking. The entire cast gave amazing performances. Also, the cinematography was out of this world, the soundtrack was hauntingly surreal, and the story itself compelling. As I watched the film, I actually felt as though I had been transported back to 1881, and was watching the entire drama unfold before my very eyes. Amazing!!!!!

Galen Scott

This film deserves several Acadamy Awards, namely for best actor in a leading role, best supporting actor, best cinematography, and best picture. Even the soundtrack should have been considered for an Oscar. I'm not sure what the Acadamy's members were thinking. The entire cast gave amazing performances. Also, the cinematography was out of this world, the soundtrack was hauntingly surreal, and the story itself compelling. As I watched the film, I actually felt as though I had been transported back to 1881, and was watching the entire drama unfold before my very eyes. Amazing!!!!!

Foekenhasspoken

The Timeout Reviewer should simply not be trusted on this film. ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ is a splendid, ambitious and lyrical film, driven by a complex array of fully realized and deeply nuanced characters. The acting is uniformly first class, with some of the minor players delivering performances every bit as excellent as those of Affleck and Pitt. It is a film of great depth and weight. Historical context is handled deftly, without ever becoming cliché as the film treads the historiographical middle-ground between competing interpretations of James, for and against. The cinematography is stunning and the score is perfect. If you are after an action-filled spaghetti western then you will be disappointed, but this is a terrific film. My only reservation was the vanity piece afforded to Nick Cave, though given his contribution to the film as a whole, perhaps he should be forgiven.

Foekenhasspoken

The Timeout Reviewer should simply not be trusted on this film. ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ is a splendid, ambitious and lyrical film, driven by a complex array of fully realized and deeply nuanced characters. The acting is uniformly first class, with some of the minor players delivering performances every bit as excellent as those of Affleck and Pitt. It is a film of great depth and weight. Historical context is handled deftly, without ever becoming cliché as the film treads the historiographical middle-ground between competing interpretations of James, for and against. The cinematography is stunning and the score is perfect. If you are after an action-filled spaghetti western then you will be disappointed, but this is a terrific film. My only reservation was the vanity piece afforded to Nick Cave, though given his contribution to the film as a whole, perhaps he should be forgiven.

Barbara  Young

I agree that there could have been some editing without adversely affecting the mood or development. It was a showcase for incredible acting. If one is not into the slow simmer of a psychological drama then they may indeed be bored. It was beautiful cinematography and a great soundtrack that added to the richness of the film. But again, I still believe it wouldn't have lost much if it was culled a bit.

Dave7

The comment you type in this box will appear on the A brilliant film with excellent persormances from the main characters. Visually beautiful with an excellent soundtrack. The slow pace and psychology of the two main characters made for compulsive viewing

Dave7

The comment you type in this box will appear on the A brilliant film with excellent persormances from the main characters. Visually beautiful with an excellent soundtrack. The slow pace and psychology of the two main characters made for compulsive viewing

critique

Agree with KB absolutely. An immaculately constructed, fascinating film. I would recommend it to anyone who loves cinema.

critique

Agree with KB absolutely. An immaculately constructed, fascinating film. I would recommend it to anyone who loves cinema.

Ianemmdubb

Heavens what a long movie. I longed for some action (only one robbery in the whole film) but instead was treated to a masterclass of acting by Brad Pitt as a borderline psychotic Jesse but really not much else other than time.... then more time ..... followed by more time. I'm all for atmosphere but this movie could have been cut by 30 minutes without spoiling story or atmospherics

Sutton

A gripping film studying the minds and motives of 19th century gunslingers, shot with brilliant cinematography. The leads are superb and although a long film, it flies by. Worth seeing on the big screen.

Sutton

A gripping film studying the minds and motives of 19th century gunslingers, shot with brilliant cinematography. The leads are superb and although a long film, it flies by. Worth seeing on the big screen.

alfred looij

I'm also suprised at the 3 star choice its a well played film a top quality film very extraordinary the film has a grip on you so even its a long film you don't want it to end

alfred looij

I'm also suprised at the 3 star choice its a well played film a top quality film very extraordinary the film has a grip on you so even its a long film you don't want it to end

KB

I'm suprised at the 3 star choice. I thought that the slow pace and stylisation were powerful contributors to a top quality film. They help convey the inhuman detachment and isolation necessary for the murder to take place, and the cult of celebrity to continue in all its delusional absurdity. As a study of the dangers of idolatry the film has strong contemporary resonance, made more powerful by the intelligent performance of a supercelebrity in the lead role (co-producer Pitt also insisted on keeping the long film title). It's a gripping ride, and one that's ultimately more thought provoking then emotionally wrenching. It is also a visual masterpiece. Instant classic.

KB

I'm suprised at the 3 star choice. I thought that the slow pace and stylisation were powerful contributors to a top quality film. They help convey the inhuman detachment and isolation necessary for the murder to take place, and the cult of celebrity to continue in all its delusional absurdity. As a study of the dangers of idolatry the film has strong contemporary resonance, made more powerful by the intelligent performance of a supercelebrity in the lead role (co-producer Pitt also insisted on keeping the long film title). It's a gripping ride, and one that's ultimately more thought provoking then emotionally wrenching. It is also a visual masterpiece. Instant classic.

andy pearmain

Extraordinary film - as much a serious work of history as a gripping, epic Western. Brad Pitt shows how to transcend celebrity and actually do movie acting. It looks beautiful - amazing cinematography - and it adapts beautifully too, with a voiceover narratve that actually stands up in its own right as a dramatic contribution. Possibly a bit too long, but with a film this good, more is very welcome. Go see.

andy pearmain

Extraordinary film - as much a serious work of history as a gripping, epic Western. Brad Pitt shows how to transcend celebrity and actually do movie acting. It looks beautiful - amazing cinematography - and it adapts beautifully too, with a voiceover narratve that actually stands up in its own right as a dramatic contribution. Possibly a bit too long, but with a film this good, more is very welcome. Go see.