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,…
Probably the best western since MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER and equally haunting. There's so many things to love about this film, from Roger Deakins wonderful cinematography to Brad Pitt's best performance, probably ever. But what sticks is its scathing indictment of celebrity despite all evidence to the contrary. Yeah, so much as changed since then.
I was told this was hot shit, and I'm a huge fan of Chopper and Killing Them Softly...but this didn't click for me on first viewing. Maybe I didn't get it? Maybe I'm too slow? Or maybe this is a bit overrated? Probably need to watch it again...
Just beautiful. Visually stunning, and the acting... Mind blowing!
A must watch.
He was ashamed of his persiflage, his boasting, his pretensions of courage and ruthlessness; he was sorry about his cold-bloodedness, his dispassion, his inability to express what he now believed was the case - that he truly regretted killing Jesse, that he missed the man as much as anybody and wished his murder hadn't been necessary. Even as he circulated his saloon he knew that the smiles disappeared when he passed by. He received so many menacing letters that he could read them without any reaction except curiosity. He kept to his apartment all day, flipping over playing cards, looking at his destiny in every King and Jack.
Edward O'Kelly came up from Bachelor at one P.M. on the 8th.…
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford  is the oh-so succinctly titled cinematic tale of one of the most famous American outlaws of all time, the infamous Jesse James (Brad Pitt). The film, more about characters than crime setpieces, shows how Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) went from Jesse James fanboy to resenting him to the point of betrayal.
A slow, slow burn. This is a long movie and it definitely feels long. It’s based around character relationships and dialogue, not setpieces, so there aren’t any big action scenes. This may alienate some of the more casual movie watchers. Additionally, the film does take a while to get into the central Ford-James conflict. The main story hook…
Brilliant sound editing & track, voice-over & out of focus fish eye cinematography, and psychological depth.
85/100 - Excellent
The performances and cinematography made this movie.
Pitt is better than he ever has been.
Affleck was fantastic as the titular coward.
Rockwell and Renner were also great as Charlie Ford and Hite.
Deakins' cinematography was amazing too, Oscar winning worthy.
A great start and end dragged down by a slow middle loses the film half a star.
It's slow but pretty.
Make sure you're awake to watch;
It pays dividends.
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…