"The Assassination of Jesse James by
the Coward Robert Ford"
Directed by Andrew Dominik.
Written by Andrew Dominik. Based on the novel by Ron Hansen.
Starring Casey Affleck, Brad Pitt, Sam Rockwell and Sam Shepard.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 10/11/07
The review won't totally reflect this, but I
was a bit disappointed by "The Assassination of Jesse James by the
Coward Robert Ford" (which will be referred to as "TAJJCRF") because
its beautiful print and sexy visuals never come equipped with a
story, character development or even vague excitement to make it a
Casey Affleck plays our coward, Robert; a
loser from the start, Robert hooks up with The James Gang in 1881
hoping just to be around his hero Jesse James (Brad Pitt), whom he
has idolized for years. What Robert doesn't know is that Jesse
and his older brother Frank James (Sam Shepard) have just completed
their last train robbery, and are planning to semi-retire to a life
of family and hiding from the Pinkertons. Despite this,
Robert--who's never amounted to anything and never seems to show the
hope that he'll overcome his humble beginnings--and his brother
Charlie (Sam Rockwell) have been friends of friends of Jesse for
years, so when Jesse needs a couple more riding partners, he enlists
the services of the Ford brothers to pal around the greater Missouri
area while Jesse stays out of view from lawmen.
Other things are going on here, but that's
the bulk of the movie, and thankfully, "TAJJCRF" is very, very
beautiful to watch. The cinematography is excellent but the
visuals are often stunning, stark vistas of an Old West that rarely
features shootouts and horse chases but give us plenty to chew on
and stare at all film long. It's the "long" part that is the
problem; at 160 minutes, there are painfully long stretches where
literally nothing happens to advance our story or give us insight
into either Ford the coward or James the anti-hero. And,
everything happens so slowly for so long that if you see this film
after dark--which is when I saw it--you will be fighting off slumber
for many parts of "TAJJCRF." This is not a good thing.
The performances of Pitt, Affleck and
Rockwell are great; Mary-Louise Parker is oddly wasted as Jesse's
wife, and Shepard is in the film for far too little. The score
is peaceful, and some of the biographical information of both the
time and of James is interesting; I would have liked one or two more
sequences to show how bad a man Jesse was prior to this last train
robbery; as it is, I thought the film could have done more to paint
Jesse as a bad man that had to go. And, in classic "Lord of
the Rings: The Return of the King" mode, "TAJJCRF" has a REALLY hard
time finishing up; just when you think it's over, you've got 15
minutes to go. Not a good idea.
Overall, though, I must admit that "TAJJCRF"
is quite pleasant and will make you think that it wasn't too bad; it
just felt a little empty given the situation. There is vast
room for improvement on this project, but as it is, it doesn't suck,
that's for sure!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard