What we have here is an amazing, gripping, and fantastically produced piece of cinema, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is one of, if not the best, film I have seen all year. Now there is a lot of time left in the year, and a lot of good looking movies on the horizon, but this one will be tough to beat in my eyes.
The film looks at the life of Jesse James (Brad Pitt) after his last heist and his interaction with a new gang member Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) and the people that surround their two lives. The long title is more than appropriate for this film which looks into each of these men’s souls as we follow them toward there infamous last meeting.
The production on this movie is superb; there are countless beautiful shots through out this film with some menacing gun shots piercing the eerie silence that fills this movie with tension. From scene to scene the quality of this film rarely drops, and is usually besting the previous as it goes along. Director Andrew Dominik has set himself as a potential great of the future with this being only his second film, and his American Debut.
Dominik’s second effort is fueled by the incredible acting troupe he has on hand. The supporting players are just wonderful, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, Garret Dillahunt, do great work as the supporting gang members with Paul Schneider getting special mention for some charismatic and best work of the supporting roles as Dick Liddil.
Rounding out the supporting roles, Sam Rockwell is magnificent right in the middle of the happenings of the story, and adds a bit of lightness to the proceedings while also playing the drama as good as he ever does. It’s nice to see such a great actor like Rockwell get out of the goof ball role, mostly, he tends to fall into often and just turn in a great performance as the older brother Ford, Charlie.
Next we have Casey Affleck who comes out of left field and smacks you in the face with how good he can be. We feel him wrestling with his emotions towards Jesse and feel the struggle he’s has gaining approval from anyone. Affleck is so convincing with the moodiness and cockiness of Ford that makes us feeling sorry for him to hate him over the course of a scene. Ford, a truly tragic character, is just as big a star here as James, and their two paths are wholly connected and intertwine and their fates are both in the hands of each other. Pitt and Affleck, and the rest of the cast as well, play off each other so well and work so great together which I think wouldn’t be possible without these guys being friends from the Ocean’ films before hand.
And let’s let that poor transition bring us to Pitt. Amazing work here, he hasn’t been this good sense Fight Club, and this might top Tyler Durden. I won’t have that argument here because that would take time, but all that matters is that he is great. Jesse James was a bad man, but not seem evil devil spinning his mustache, he fits in, he has a family he loves, enjoys being with friends, but he is always on guard and menacing when he needs to be. Pitt is terrifying at times but you trust him all the same, you almost half to, because to cross him, is a death sentence. I could go on about how great he is here, but just know that Pitt and Affleck are worth the price of admission alone and that there is a great story for them to work around.
A magnificent and beautiful movie, this will be one of the year’s best when it’s all said and done. Fair warning though, the movie’s length might be an issue for some, 2 hours and 40 min, but if you know going in that this about the men in the story, and the story will engage, you will not disappointed.