The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford ★★★★

Driven more by characters than by plot, this gorgeously photographed film is intellectually interesting and has an attractive epic quality to it, but it is seldom emotionally engaging. At 153 minutes, this is a long movie; however, the original cut clocked in at almost four hours, so a lot of material has been left out of the final cut. While the meditative pacing never becomes tedious, it takes some effort to get into the narrative flow. The voice-over narration works in favor of the film rather than—as is often the case—against it. Splendid performances by Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in the lead roles, and the two actors have more than a few intense scenes together; the supporting cast is nothing short of excellent. Written and directed with restrained passion by Andrew Dominik. Based on the novel "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" by Ron Hansen.