The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford


Film Review by Parker Langley | 07 Nov 2007
Film title: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Director: Andrew Dominik
Starring: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell
Release date: 30 Nov
Certificate: 15

This neo-western (I think the proper term is revisionist, but hey) is well served by its title. Too well, in fact, as the film has precious little else to say. Over its two hours and forty minutes (and you'll feel every one of them) director Andrew Dominik shows us lots of beautiful scenes, but doesn't tell us anything we couldn't have figured out by reading the name of the film. Added to this, the film is narrated in the most infuriating style, with the speaker basically restating everything that we are seeing onscreen, as it happens. It becomes more and more redundant as the film progresses, and makes any subtlety the film may have had non-existent. Pitt is miscast as the legendary outlaw James, and delivers pretty much the same performance he has been giving since Se7en, all facial twitches and meaningful nods, even resorting to using Tyler Durden's laugh in one particularly grating scene. Only two things make the film worth a look; the wonderful cinematography by Roger Deakins, which captures perfectly the mythical quality that Dominik is clearly reaching for, and Casey Affleck's flawless performance as Robert Ford. He personifies a man on a precarious balance between devotion and destruction, and captures a quality so disturbing that you feel uneasy just watching him speak. Unfortunately it's not enough to make this a great film by any stretch of the imagination, and it has to be classed as a major disappointment. [Parker Langley]