Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
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…
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…
"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…
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,…
5 Stars. Perfect film.
Simply put: a masterpiece. I love it more every time I see it.
The Assasisination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Redford - 10/10
Best. Western. Ever. I can't even express in words how great this film is. Maybe the greatest film I've ever seen, if it's not it comes damn close. Perfection is the only word to describe what is done here.
What the hell are the detractors talking about on RottenTomatoes?
[quote]Moseying along for 160 minutes[/quote]
[quote]A bleached-out dreariness and lethargic pace drains this challenging film of much of its impact.[/quote]
[quote]... gets smothered in pointlessly long takes, repetitive scenes, grim Western landscapes and mumbled, heavily accented dialogue.[/quote]
[quote]The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford adds another gauzy chapter to the overtaxed James myth, if…
"That would be a good joke, if it was funny"
That quote has absolutely nothing to do with this review, but it makes me laugh every single time I hear it.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, other then being a mouthful of a title, is one of the finest films from the 21st century, and my second favorite of all time. Jesse James, as it will be refereed to for the rest of the review, is a masterpiece in every aspect, a virtually flawless film. It is a film about how people view celebrities, the myths that are created about them, it's about our idols, it is about disappointment, and at it's forefront, it's about…
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a truly compelling story, utterly suspenseful and impeccably acted. Undoubtedly one of Brad Pitt's best performances.
"Do you want to be like me or do you want to be me?"
I really wanna punch Casey Affleck in the face. His character is kind of annoying too.
Andrew Dominik's film is exactly about what the title describes, and yet this, because of the way it is crafted, results in something much grander. Deakins' cinematography might be his very best and Cave's score works perfectly, and when put together these add up to an incredible atmospheric piece that serves as a study of the two title character's relationship. The performances are near perfect and even if the film is a bit too long and the freeze-frames near the end seem out of place, the script is completely fitting. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford may seem straightforward enough, but by the end, the film paints an image of Ford, not as a coward, but…
Even at 160 minutes and taking place in the 1800s, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD is a mesmerizing piece of work from writer/director Andrew Dominic. It's funny how the film convinces you to be weary of what to expect from Jesse James (one of Brad Pitt's best performances ever) and then turns the tables and convinces you to be weary of what to expect from Robert Ford (a superb Casey Affleck).
I loved this film, and special shoutout goes to the cinematography by Roger Deakins. It gorgeously captures the setting of the west.
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!