Urban Cinefile
"The film has SUCH a good heart, and such a powerful effect, particularly on women of a certain generation"  -Cate Blanchett on Paradise Road
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A DVD
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
The 19 year old Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), younger brother of Charley Ford (Sam Rockwell) of the James gang, has idolized Jesse James (Brad Pitt) since childhood. He tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, who is now 34, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.

Review by Louise Keller:
From the violence of Chopper to the soulful restraint of Jesse James, Andrew Dominik's portrait of the notorious, celebrated outlaw is cinematic, considered and poetic. Propelled by the enigmatic music from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, the mood that Dominik creates is palpably dense, almost engulfing us as we leisurely enter the world of the formidable Jesse James.

It's a mature and complete performance by Brad Pitt, whose indelible take on the bank robber, murderer, fugitive, husband and father is as beguiling as the Jesse James legend itself. Countering Pitt's nuanced Jesse James is Casey Affleck's astonishing portrayal of Robert Ford, who betrays his idol after suffocating from jealousy and resentment. The film is long and detailed, but so are the rewards.

'You want to be like me, or be me?' Pitt's Jesse James asks Affleck's Robert Ford in an almost bemused fashion. Not only does Ford keep a special cardboard box under his bed with James memorabilia, but he is proudly au fait with the parallels and similarities they share. Ford is convinced he is destined for great things ('I've been a nobody all my life'); his ambitions are easy to detect behind his smarmy smile.

Tension builds from the uncertainty of the relationships. Sam Rockwell is a standout as Robert's sheepish older brother Charley, Paul Schneider is excellent as gang member Dick Liddle and the ever-credible Sam Shepard leaves a mark as Jesse's brother Frank. As the outlaw's calm wife and mother to his children, Mary Louise Parker brings an extra dimension.

Based on Ron Hansen's novel, Dominik's screenplay concentrates on treating us to a real glimpse into Jesse James' life. We get a taste for being part of the gang at the final Blue Cut railroad job before James' retirement and exile. It's as though we are watching him through a frosted window pane. The clouds move quickly, the wind whistles through the golden wheat fields and the snow is pristine on the fir trees. There are conversations with slow pauses. James rides his horse, keeps his gun holster tightly strung and sits in a rocking chair, characteristically twirling his man-size cigar in his parted lips. Enhanced by superb production design, the spell of Jesse James lingers.

Published March 6, 2008

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, THE: DVD (MA)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Mary-Louise Parker, Brooklynn Proulx, Dustin Bollinger, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Schneider, Tom Aldredge, Jesse Frechette, Pat Healy, Michael Parks, Ted Levine

PRODUCER: Jules Daly, Dede Gardner, Brad Pitt, Ridley Scott, David Valdes

DIRECTOR: Andrew Dominik

SCRIPT: Andrew Dominik (novel by Ron Hansen)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roger Deakins

EDITOR: Curtiss Clayton, Dylan Tichenor

MUSIC: Nick Cave

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Patricia Norris

RUNNING TIME: 160 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 1, 2007

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: None

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: March 5, 2008







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017