Recently I was contemplating making a list of my favorite scenes in film, but I decided that instead of just…
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Beyond the myth lies America's greatest betrayal
Everyone in 1880's America knows Jesse James. He's the nation's most notorious criminal, hunted by the law in 10 states. He's also the land's greatest hero, lauded as a Robin Hood by the public. Robert Ford? No one knows him. Not yet. But the ambitious 19-year-old aims to change that. He'll befriend Jesse, ride with his gang. And if that doesn't bring Ford fame, he'll find a deadlier way.
This is my first viewing since the film’s original release back in 2007 and I feel incredibly foolish for not having re-watched it sooner.
Quite simply The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a work of staggering brilliance and arguably the finest Western of the last twenty years. It is a film that exists on the border of two worlds - on one side it mythologizes the transitionary period of American history via the fable-building narration and dreamy photography, and on the other it slowly and methodically demystifies the characters that populate it and the falsehood of celebrity. It is this contradiction that is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the film and mirrors the inner-conflict…
Dominik's best film.
Pitt's best performance.
Deakins' best work.
Affleck's perfect performance. That is not an exaggeration. Perfection is the only word for what he achieves here.
Made me forget, again, that I really don't like the western genre.
”…Rooms seemed hotter when he was in them. Rains fell straighter. Clocks slowed. Sounds were amplified…”
Okay, we know what’s going to happen, we know that a coward and weak character, named Robert Ford is going to kill the famous wild west outlaw Jesse James, we know who is who before even watching the film, Andrew Dominik’s audacious masterpiece has nothing to surprise, we know that there’s not going to be a twist, there’s not going to be a WTF moment, everything that we’re going to see is compressed in the title, that’s all.
So this film is not going to be about what’s going to happen…
"He's just a human being."
#5 on Berken's Favorite Movies Of All Time
In retrospect, it makes perfect sense how much I loved The Assassination Of Jesse James, given how Andrew Dominik here assimilates the strengths of my three favorite modern filmmakers and repurposes them into a new and potent concoction:
1. The slow-burning cynical character studies, thematic purpose, and powerful, naturalistic performances of Paul Thomas Anderson.
2. The stylized period dialogue and shocking outbursts of violence of the Coen brothers, not to mention the brilliant eye of their famed collaborator, cinematographer Roger Deakins.
3. The thoughtful, elegiac tone and elegant, repeated musical leitmotifs of Wong Kar-Wai, especially In The Mood For Love.
Granted, Dominik can't quite match Wong's skill…
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a total afterthought in my film universe for years. The title was memorable for me simply because of it's length, but it carried no real resonance with me besides that. My expectations for the film were so low that, to be honest, when I read extremely positive reviews on Letterboxd I had trouble buying into it. How could a film mean so little to me, a film that sat so far off my radar that it practically didn't exist, yet be this good?
I looked up the director, found the name Andrew Dominik. Who? A name that meant absolutely nothing to me, a tiny filmography of three films associated…
What a breathtaking gorgeous picture The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is. Unbound beauty. We are all aware by now of the director of photography, the master Roger Deakins, who has proved his astute sense of vista and marvelous photography, not only with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but on many other occasions as well. I could watch a three hour movie of sunlight inundating empty rooms, people walking around corn fields with the wind whistling by or riding through snowy forests all the time. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is not just a movie, it's a moving painting bro. Hear me out!
As I said,…
Excellent study of the birth and fascination of American celebrity. Equal parts a dance of death and a journey into the Heart of Darkness. The homoerotic undertones of Robert Ford are there but can be ignored. Possibly one of the best and most important films made about America.
It takes a story that's been told before and tells it in a new way. The film is slow and methodical, taking its own time and focusing on the little moments.
The performances are nuanced, putting emphasis on silent looks rather than putting weight on the dialogue. Because of this, the lines have more meaning behind them when they are spoken. And like 90% of this movie is conversation.
It's an interesting look at the relationship between James and Ford. Neither are vilified yet neither are held up as heroes. Instead the movie sets out to ask us what the price of betrayal is. And even more, what does honor actually mean?
It might be a little pretentious, but I can deal with that if a movie (especially one this long) can hold my attention.
Filmed in the beautiful plains of Canada, the film provides an adaptation of a novel which strides the lines of both researched non-fictional accounts, and fictional retelling. The dream like qualities of the film are apparent enough to make sure viewers are aware of the interpretative nature of the text. The relations between the main characters are carefully explored, analyzed in depth through interactions not just between the two, but through their relations with other characters, Jesse's force of personality permeates the first 2/3rds of the film, and its effects on Robert Ford are easily seen. The film explores a well known historical event through the presence of the omniscient / retrospective narrator, wonderfully underlining certain important events that aren't necessarily depicted.
Just as good as the first time I saw this. The narration is very well done, and adds a sense of detachment which does well to underscore the weight of each character's actions and how they come to chart the rest of their lives (and deaths). This time around I noticed just how cold the different settings look to be, with snow blanketing the ground, or gloomy skies threatening to release a winter onslaught as the wind whips across the plains. This depiction of man at odds with the elements deromanticizes the common conceptions of 'the west' and frontier life, showing these people to be little more than ants on a rock; a comparison which also hints at how a single man such as James can become greater than himself, despite his clearly troubled and fragile psyche.
The cinematography is fantastic, and the train robbery scene looks beautiful. Also Casey Affleck's best work
What I got to say about "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is a good one great novel to make it a good movie. The performances by the cast is good. "Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck both brings life into the two main characters in this movie. There both unforgettable." The directing and screenplay by Andrew Dominik is good. The cinematography is done well. Finally, the score and effects are good as well. "Now if you are wondering if "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" a good movie to watch? For my opinion, I say yes it a movie that is a must see."
Very good movie. Not great. Way to long but the dialogue was very engaging. Great performances from a strong cast. Needs some editing and this would be much better. Also a better name and maybe it would have done better.
One of the finest films ever made. Worth every second of your time.
this movie was a lot more depressing than i expected tbh, and that cinematography was insane 👀 Deakins is spectacular as always
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!