Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.
The film tells the story of the James Gang and specifically the fatal relationship of Jesse James and Robert Ford. During the course of the action we see darkness and light in everyone, even the "coward." Care is taken to finely pare into the psyches of these Outlaws and the cold world they walk in. I think I saw just about every emotion there is to have in these men and we can almost understand, even if we can't accept, what moves them in their deadly paths.
Pitt is both iconic and vulnerable - beautiful and frightening as Jesse James, a robber and killer who hoists up a reputation of fearless boss on one shoulder and charming folk hero on another. His character's movement through peril and praise reminds one of the great gangster characters from Scorsese's work, with an added rawness that only Pitt and a few others can genuinely summon. His fatalism is also quite entrancing and subtly masterful.
Affleck is truly mesmerizing as a born misfit who is so uncomfortable in this world around him, that his neuroses, if they can be called that, really get into your skin. I was reminded of Joaquin Phoenix's role as Comodus, but it's even more intense and yet so very believable. As the audience, I was torn between pitying the character, being utterly disappointed in him, and just wanting him to somehow be better. And the script's maturity really comes into play with this character. No one is beyond reproach, understanding, or grim fate.
I'd say that's the main theme here: fate.
There's no easy formula. No one simply "gets what's coming to them." There are no simple villains or heroes. There's just life and the actions taken and the echoes of those actions and eventually, an end. It transcends any petty ideas of justice or even legend. It takes a full snapshot of a beautiful and grim reality and lets us just take it in, like a corpse on ice. Profound by presentation alone.
- Nov 11, 2011