Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Director: Andrew Dominik
Country: USA

The basic premise of this movie is summed up in the title - Jesse James (Brad Pitt) is killed by one of his gang members, Robert Ford (Casey Affleck). However, there is more to it than that. This is the story of an outlaw, an admiring member of his posse, and the development of their relationship that eventually leads to Jesse James's untimely death.

Chopper director Andrew Dominik returns for a superb second feature, another adaptation looking inside criminal life. This time, instead of a darkly humorous biopic about Mark "Chopper" Read, it's a deep and contemplative study of the last months of infamous outlaw Jesse James and his assailant Robert Ford. Now, many have complained about the length of the movie - clocking in at 160 minutes - but I actually was not bothered by the running time one bit. I felt that it was very well paced and that, if anything, it could have gone for a bit longer to further develop some of the characters. The directing and cinematography are just great. It's a really beautiful film in terms of content and look. The acting is very solid all-round, with a show-stealing performance by Casey Affleck.

This is a great movie. It has western elements but is more of a character drama, showcasing the relationship between Jesse James and his eventual killer, and of how Robert Ford changes throughout the whole ordeal. Highly recommended.

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