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,…
The snail pacing is difficult, and the sporadic narration makes it feel more like a History Channel documentary/reenactment, but I am inclined to give it a decent score nonetheless. The sum of its parts didn't impress me much, but those individual parts - the acting, the cinematography, etc, are quite excellent.
Favorite movie of all time
Jesus Christ, if the rest of the film were as amazing as the last half hour this would surely top best-ever lists all-around. It probably takes a bit too much time to get there but the overall achievement is stupendous nonetheless.
One the most beautiful films from a cinematography standpoint. Acting and score are great too.
Technically impressive, but just too slow for me. Other applicable adjectives: Ponderous, brooding...
Great soundtrack, fantastic plot, perfect acting, incredible cinematography...why is this cinematic masterpiece so underrated? Everything about it is excellent. Clearly one of the best films of 2007 (if not the best) and of the 2000s.
This movie just never ceases to blow me away. What a western, folks! Now for Slow West . . . .
Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.
Such a great modern Western, beautiful to look at courtesy of Roger Deakins and with great performances from the two leads in Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt. As with a lot of classic Westerns, it's in no rush to get anywhere which works as throughout the film there is a sense of dread towards the inevitable climax.
2007 was a great year for cinema.
I hadn't seen this in a couple years.
It still sits solidly within my top 5 movies I've ever seen.
It feels like a distant memory recollected in vivid color and surprising detail. Although it comes in at almost 3 hours in length, it pulsates with life in a way that keeps me hooked from beginning to end. Within every pause, every glance, every silence lies an undercurrent which is constantly crackling with tension. It's electric.
Brad Pitt is virtually unrecognizable. Casey Affleck is nothing short of genius. And none of the supporting cast misses a step either.
It's about glory. It's about the wrath of a young man spurned. It's about betrayal and the passion of revenge. It's about…
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!