The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Reviews
Basing on the novel of the same name, «The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford» combines literature-like characters study through numerous dialogs and voice-over narration with great visual beauty supported by brilliant Roger Dickens' cinematography. The result is a poetic graphic novel of strong visual and verbal expression.
The remarkable style of the film with its slow pacing, voice-over narration and imagery of golden fields in the rays of sunset brings to mind Terrence Malick and particularly his «Days of Heaven» (There is even Sam Shepard on one of the important roles). Nevertheless, poetry of the «Assasination...» has its own identity serving the themes film explores. Literally and figuratively«gilded» depiction of the world, like the one we have in our nostalgic memories, compliments Robert Ford's idealization of legendary outlaw Jessie James, member of whose gang Ford becomes. Seeking fame but being too ordinary to get it as his idol did, the only way Ford finds to attract attention to himself is by becoming a person «who killed Jessie James». Conflict of mediocrity and extraordinariness becomes central problem of the film and is being explored through interesting characters. Strong actors performances, especially the one carried out by Casey Affleck as Robert Ford, contribute to it.
«The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford» is remarkable for its visual style but not limited to it. Exploring interesting themes and having strong actors performances, the film presents a great interest and despite its failure in the box office deserves appreciation equal to more successful pictures.
Deakins lovers will ofcourse love this, but I dont think the work is anything special compared to others and at times was quite drab. The camera placement were always safe, mids and singles, no movement really or contruction of scenes, this played out like a documentary on the history channel.
A somewhat sluggish first act, and some slightly overused narration are my only complaints; other than that I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. The story is quite obvious from the title, Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), originally obsessed by Jesse James (Brad Pitt), eventually becomes James' downfall. This obsession is the focal point of the film and it is fascinating to see how it shifts to contempt and disdain. The two leads show both sides of this exceptionally, with Affleck playing the obsessed teen with an element of creepiness that makes the character at times rather unnerving. Pitt delivers one of his greatest performances, a man made uncertain by this overly interested gang member, but also someone of great influence and power who is respected and feared by the men he commands. This fear element is not unlike a lot of gangster films, there are several brilliantly tense moments in the second half between Affleck, Pitt and Sam Rockwell (playing Ford's older brother) that are not unlike the 'funny how?' scene from Goodfellas, with anxious glances and nervous laughter punctuating awkward silences.
The film is further improved by the perfectly chosen supporting cast, including Jeremy Renner and Paul Schneider, who all deliver believable and engaging performances that add to the story's emotion and tension. Roger Deakins' cinematography combined with the sharp editing is also a sight to behold. He perfectly captures the feel of every scene and the use of the camera in more intimate dialogue scenes allows the viewer to really get a feel for Ford's obsession and how his world seemingly revolves around James, cutting out friends and family and focusing only on the criminal. There are plenty of breath-taking scenery shots as well that make perfect use of the setting.
Despite my complaints, I really found this to be an intriguing and enthralling picture. It's not perfect but it's well worth a watch.