Script: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Garret Dillahunt, Jeremy Renner, Mary-Louise Parker, Paul Schneider, Sam Rockwell, Sam Shepard
Setting: 1880s, C19th
Rated : 10 Stars
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.