The only thing I would change about this deft, beautifully designed, masterfully crafted bit of film folklore is the narration. At times it just feels intrusive, and at others it's a bit like a History Channel documentary. Otherwise, this gripping, slow-burning account of the legendary fates of outlaw Jesse James and his assassin is just about perfect. Roger Deakins' subtle, expertly lit cinematography makes it the best-looking western in decades, whether framing a character's quandary against a waving wheatfield or silhouetting characters to emphasize the unreal nature of America's myths. Brad Pitt gives the best performance of his career as a thoughtful, taciturn Jesse, but Casey Affleck is the real draw as Robert Ford, a stammering, hemming, grinning savant everyone brands as an imbecile. The evolution of Sam Rockwell from a simple "rube" (as the narration describes) to a calculating, intense loner ominously reminiscent of the ill-fated Jesse is also spellbinding, as is the swaying, minimalist score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The film takes its time, but earns each one of its 160 minutes with riveting suspense, panoramic beauty, and a haunting sense of loss that evokes the fates of not only the larger-than-life characters, but the America in which they lived.