Taking place in the American Northwest in the early 1880s, the film dramatizes the last seven months in the life of famed outlaw Jesse James, beginning with the Blue Cut train robbery of 1881 and culminating in his assassination at the hands of Robert Ford the following April. In the time between these two fateful events, the young and jealous Ford befriends the increasingly mistrustful outlaw, even as he plots his demise. Written by
During filming, Sam Shepard was in his 60s and Brad Pitt was in his 40s. The characters they play are supposed to be in their 30s. Casey Affleck was in his early 30s, close to Robert Ford's age during the epilogue, but much older than Ford's age during the main plot. See more »
Toward the end of the movie, a closeup of Robert Ford's face reveals a noticeable hole from a piercing. 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 ...
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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.
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