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Thoughts on ""The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Worth A Matinee or Full-Price Ticket: Matinee. The only justification for a full-price ticket would be the running time, which is nearly 2 1/2 hours.

Will I Own It On DVD: Unlikely. I'm glad I saw this once, but feel no need to watch it again for a very long time.

1) This is basically a visually-appealing, sprawling character study that is a very quiet, slowly-paced film. This is not "3:10 to Yuma" despite both falling into the Western genre, and anyone expecting a shoot 'em up action picture will be sorely disappointed with "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

2) The title for this film is a microcosm for the movie - interesting, yet ultimately far too long. 'Jesse James' clocks in around 2 hrs and 20 minutes, and the movie could have easily shaved 20 minutes off the running time while not sacrificing any dramatic weight.

3) Brad Pitt gives a very good performance as Jesse James, and it's a reminder that he can deliver solid acting turns when required to stretch beyond his looks. His portrayal of the paranoid outlaw consists of many faraway/sidelong glances and Pitt gives a nuanced performance that is subtle, yet still interesting to watch.

4) Casey Affleck matches Pitt as Robert Ford, and the younger Affleck brother shades his character well as he moves from hero worship to the ultimate coward which the film's title suggests. My problem is that I just don't enjoy watching Affleck in starring roles for a reason I cannot put my finger on. He's very good in bit parts (see "Ocean's 11" or "Good Will Hunting"), however, that same energy dulls for me if Affleck lingers in too many frames.

5) Although I enjoyed the abandonment from conventional Westerns in 'James,' I would have enjoyed a bit more action or at least some of the early history of the James brothers as this movie catches them at the end of their notorious run of robberies.

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" should only be watched with the full knowledge that this is an extended character study which is high on visuals and sparse on action. I went in with low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised as the film unfolded, however, if you have neither the desire nor the patience for a long Western then you can figure out the entire movie from its title.



  1. JLee Says:
  2. I know what you mean about Casey Affleck. He's kind of a quirky character actor, but it's hard to watch him for long. Boy, these reviews lately are not motivating me to go see any Westerns...haha

  3. Thanks for the warning. Will avoid this one. You are right about Pitt being better than he gets credit for. His choices aren't always the best but he can deliver when he's in the right production.

  4. Miss Ash Says:
  5. I don't think I've ever seen a Western....why start now haha.

  6. Jlee - Yeah, Affleck bugs me in larger roles. Still not sure why, and both 'James' and 'Yuma' were OK - just not an all-timer.

    Getoffmylawn - I agree about Pitt as he's sneaky that way, and I admire his interesting choices along the way as well (even if they don't always pay off).

    Miss Ash - 'James' would not be a good one for you to cut your teeth on then. Ha. But you should watch "Tombstone" or "Unforgiven" or "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" at some point.

  7. BostonPobble Says:
  8. Not a fan of Affleck for long stretches, either, and can't quite say why myself. Good to know Pitt is acting again, though.

  9. I have this theory, that movie titles that are longer than three words, are destined to not be worth watching. I'm sure there are some that can prove this wrong, but.... Glad to see your reivew on this. I was curious but now can wait until it's on cable. You save us all a lot of movie... you should have a "tip" jar.

  10. BostonPobble - Damn. I wish you could have nailed the Affleck thing as I cannot quite express it. And yes, Pitt does some solid work here.

    Anonymous Boxer - Ha. Maybe I'll try to set up a virtual tip jar on the site. As for the movie, you can wait for cable as long movies are better at home where the snacks are free & the bathroom is near.

  11. Tiara Girl Says:
  12. I'm still waiting on the theatrical version of "The Availability of Jennifer Anniston by the idiot Bradley Pitt", personally.

  13. Wendy Says:
  14. The still photos alone made me sleeeepy.

  15. Tiara Girl - That's another long title. Ha. And while I don't fully condone the Anniston affair, Jolie is hard to turn down. Decisions, decisions.

    Wendy - It's a lot of wind rustling, sky moving and taciturn men with guns. Now grab some coffee. Ha.

  16. I've always enjoyed your movie reviews. You also may wanna check out this other excellent movie review site, if you have the time:

  17. vivavavoom Says:
  18. yeah....not even on my short list. see 'Across the Universe' and let me know what you think.

  19. Idig - Thanks as I enjoy doing them, and have been writing them for a long time. I'll check out the site as well because a good review is helpful for me.

    Vivavavoom - That's the Beatles one with Evan Rachel Wood, yes? I might have to wait to rent that one, but I'll let you know.

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