Film Review: The Assassination of Jesse James By The Robert Coward Ford

A still from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Jesse James (Brad Pitt) looks with frustration upon the young, optimistic Robert Ford (Casey Affleck.)

The Assassination of Jesse James By The Robert Coward Ford, 2007

Directed and Written by Andrew Dominik, co-written by Rob Hansen

We are expected to praise a Western just for having a heart and a brain, as though the song the balladeer concludes the film busking is not just a good song, but would be deeply insightful were it to understand that the coward was sad too.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a moderately well-acted and quite well-shot melodrama in the west with bursts of great, whip-smart violence that say more than the interminable, cliché-ridden script and fairly unoriginal production style. For the violence screams that anyone could do what these men are doing; they miss repeatedly, they grapple their own intense fears, and the winner in a shoot is just the luckier man at the end of a gun. The violence is not played for legend, and that is the film’s purpose.

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