The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [based on the book] by dir. by

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Rated :

I loved this film.

I loved everything about it. The acting was brilliant. The way the story unfolded. The narration. The casting. The scenery. The cinematography. The soundtrack. Everything was just great. Best film I’ve seen this year. Which’d be a higher compliment if this wasn’t the first film I’ve been to see so far this year. But I’m guessing it’ll be up on the top ten list by the end of 2008.

Jesse James is one of those strange “folk heroes”. He was a robber and a murderer yet he was also something of hero. I don’t know enough about the real Jesse James to comment on whether or not he was a rebel and a “freedom fighter” in real life, but in this film he doesn’t really seem to be. Sure, it may be part of his own justification for his actions, and the American civil war casts a shadow, but he is also a cold-blooded murderer.

And yet we somehow empathise with this character who beats up a young boy. Maybe it is simply that we know that James will be murdered, the title really does give it away, but I don’t think that is the only reason. More it is Pitt’s portrayal of this paranoid, temperamental man that does the trick. I really enjoyed him in this film. The last few that I’ve seen him in have been more light-weight affairs, where he has been fine, but not really great.

And then of course there is Casey Affleck who is creep personified. But never so much so that he is totally distanced from the audience. His Bob Ford is a callow youth, he does betray his “friend”, and yet the film manages to make you hate him and yet feel for him.

The one criticism I might have is that the role of Jesse James’ wife is under-written. She shows up in a few scenes, but she doesn’t have a character as such. Then again, this is much more a character study of two men, James and Ford, so I suppose we might excuse it. But surely she played a large part in Jesse James’ life?

One word of caution though, if you are expecting a shoot ’em up western then don’t go to see this. It is slow, not in bad way, merely taking its time to tell the story. There are gun-fights, but this isn’t an action flick.

Okay, so I said that the lack of a role for the wife was my one criticism, and when I’m only talking about the film as a film, that is true, but I do have one other little issue. And that is Show Spoiler ▼

Besides, it doesn’t detract from the film in the slightest, it rather has the opposite effect.

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Post Author: Fence

11 thoughts on “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [based on the book]

    red

    (8 January 2008 - 1:54 pm)

    phew!

    anne

    (8 January 2008 - 1:56 pm)

    10 stars?! All right, just wait until you've seen No Country for Old Men. Just you wait.

    jean pierre

    (8 January 2008 - 2:38 pm)

    ah… good to hear this is good. personally this whole brad pitt witch hunt has gone a bit far ('cause of the whole jennifer aniston thing…). i'm glad he's made a good film!

    Carl V.

    (8 January 2008 - 3:48 pm)

    Glad to hear it, this was one I thought looked really interesting and I will definitely check out on DVD.

    Fence

    (8 January 2008 - 6:01 pm)

    @ red : I'm relieved too :)

    @ Anne: I've heard not great things from the only person I know who has seen it. Not bad things, just that it is't great. But I'll keep an open mind. Plus No Country has Josh Brolin (albeit looking terrible).

    @ JP : He can do whatever he wants in his personal life, once he delivers on screen than I don't care. Well, unless he tries to murder me. Cause that might make me a mite honery.

    @ Carl : I hope you enjoy. I think you'll like the look if nothing else. There are plenty of scenes that could almost be paintings they look so great.

    sir jorge

    (8 January 2008 - 8:39 pm)

    I wanted to see that one, but didn't hear anything from them for a while.

    Courtney

    (8 January 2008 - 11:02 pm)

    Wow, this is the first good review of this movie that I've read. You (and Casey Affleck, who was good in Gone, Baby, Gone) have convinced me to see it…

    Fence

    (9 January 2008 - 12:26 pm)

    @ Sir Jorge : you should try and see it when it comes out on dvd, although I'm guessing that some of the shots won't look quite so impressive without the big screen.

    @ Courtney : I hope you enjoy it.

    Eric

    (9 January 2008 - 4:56 pm)

    The family of Jesse James have posted their own 5 page review of this movie on their family web site, together with stories about the James family’s former experiences with Hollywood and Jesse James movies.

    http://www.ericjames.org/Reviews/AssassinationofJ

    Alan

    (10 January 2008 - 1:16 pm)

    I've been wondering about going to see this. Thing is, I love the thirties version with Ty Power as Jesse and Henry Fonda as Frank, and John Carradine as Bob Ford (and even more so it's sequel The Return of Frank James, one of those rare sequels that are better than the original,) and it's always difficult to see a new version of something when you're such a fan of the old one. But maybe I'll give it a go.

    […] think this is one of the rare cases where watching the film version improves your enjoyment of the novel. Maybe because for certain passages I could really here the […]

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