Taking place in Missouri 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
A great deal of the narration and dialogue for the movie was taken verbatim from the 1983 novel by Ron Hansen. Some is tweaked or rearranged, however; for example, the line of narration describing Jesse as "rich and leisured who had the common touch" early in the movie was actually taken from a description of another character, Soapy Smith, who doesn't appear until near the end of the book, after Jesse has already been killed. Interestingly, though, Hansen uses the "rich and leisured" line of description again in his 2016 novel The Kid. In this instance, he uses it to describe Jesse James when he briefly meets the novel's protagonist, Billy the Kid. One wonders if Hansen put it there as an Easter egg for fans of the movie. See more »
When Jesse James tells Robert Ford about his plans to rob Wells Bank,he tells Ford that Platte City is 30 miles south of Kansas City. It's actually 30 miles north of Kansas City. 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 is a really amazing film. All the pieces - props, costume, camera-work, script, and acting - fit together as well as the finely crafted parts of a nickel-plated revolver. I was surprised I'd not heard more about it.
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.
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