The last months of Jesse James's life, from meeting Robert Ford, a 19-year-old who idolizes Jesse, to the day Ford shoots him. Jesse's a wanted man, living under a pseudonym, carrying out a train robbery, disappearing to Kentucky, and reappearing to plan a bank holdup with Robert and Robert's brother as his team. The rest of the gang is dead, arrested, or gone from Missouri. Whenever Jesse's around, there's tension: he's murderous, quixotic, depressed, and cautious. Ford wants to be somebody and wants the reward. On April 3, 1882, things come to a head: Jesse is 34, Robert 20. Ford becomes famous, reenacting the shooting on stage, facing down the label "coward," shot dead in 1892. Written by
The town of Creede, Colorado was recreated in Alberta at a cost of $1 million. See more »
Towards the end of the film, Robert Ford shoots, then throws the gun on the floor. The gun disappears when Robert Ford leaves. See more »
He was growing into middle age, and was living then in a bungalow on Woodland Avenue. He installed himself in a rocking chair and smoked a cigar down in the evenings as his wife wiped her pink hands on an apron and reported happily on their two children. His children knew his legs, the sting of his mustache against their cheeks. They didn't know how their father made his living, or why they so often moved. They didn't even know their father's name. He was listed in the city ...
See more »
The film does not contain either an opening title nor intro credits. The film title is displayed first after the final fadeout. See more »
This almost defines the oft-used term "elegiac Western". It has some of the well-worn themes of Westerns, such as the creation of Western myth vs. the cold, harsh realities. But for some reason, it never feels like anything else I've ever seen. It has a style more reminiscent of Michelangelo Antonioni than any of the great Western filmmakers. It's slow and likes to surround its characters with enormous landscapes that almost swallow them whole. But it's also not averse to close-ups. Director Dominik, who has only made one other film, Chopper, and it's been seven years since then, loves to concentrate on facial expressions, as well as body language (don't know if I've ever seen a film with this level of attention to body language, or maybe it's just not something to which I've ever been lead to pay much attention). The cast is uniformly brilliant. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck are the titular leads, and neither has done as well. Affleck is a revelation. The supporting cast includes Sam Rockwell, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Renner, Garrett Dillahunt and Paul Schneider. Andrew Dominik is the star, though. There have been plenty of successful Westerns over the past couple of decades, but I'd be hard-pressed to name a single one out that so beautifully and completely re-invents the genre. 3:10 to Yuma may well be the big money-making Western of the year, but I think history will recall it as being the year that The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was released. It is the best film of the year so far, and will be hard to top.
125 of 183 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?