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Westerns - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Click picture to see Amazon listing
Click picture for Amazon listing.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mary-Louise Parker, Casey Affleck
Director: Andrew Dominik
Number of discs: 1
Rating: R
Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: February 5, 2008
Run Time: 160 minutes

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is the kind of film that can go either way with a viewer depending on their mood or temperament. Brad Pitt stars and Jessie James and Casey Affleck is Robert Ford both delivering performances which can only be characterized as superb. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an in depth exploration of the complexities of hero worship, manic behaviour and men of murderous dispositions.

On a strictly visual level The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a beautifully shot movie the attention to detail, the settings and most especially the lighting are almost at the level of being characters in the movie. If you see this movie for no other reason

The title of the film would seem to indicate that Jessie James was a hero assassinated by some lowly form of life called Robert Ford. The actual movie though is far from a gentle or romantic treatment of Jessie James and Robert Ford is less a coward than a very scared young man who has put himself into a series of situations the gravity of which he couldn’t possibly understand. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a slow moving story that takes time to develop Jessie and Robert as people with feet of clay and driven by passions beyond their control. The story starts at Blue Cut with the last train robbery orchestrated by the James boys and ends ten years after the death of Jessie James when Robert Ford also meets his maker. 

Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Jessie James is nuanced and utterly convincing. James, as played by Pitt, is a mercurial personality given to manic joy, murderous rage and an icy calm that is more disturbing than any of this other dispositions. Jessie James is not a nice person. Robert Ford on the other hand is a little whiney, prone to hero worship and in his own way as cold a killer as Jessie James is only not as enthusiastic in the execution of the task. The essence of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is the interplay between James and Ford which can either be fascinating or like watching paint dry depending on the viewer. To this reviewer it was an immensely enjoyable experience and results in one of the finest westerns to grace the screen since HBO released Deadwood.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is simply a must see.

Denis Bernicky

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