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The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

Review byMatthew Turner19/10/2007

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 160 mins

Beautifully directed, visually stunning Western with terrific performances from Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt – this is one of the best films of the year.

What's it all about?
Directed by Andrew Dominik (the Australian director of Chopper) and based on the novel by Ron Hansen, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford charts the last few months in the life of notorious outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt), beginning with the moment when he first meets 19-year-old Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), the younger brother of gang member Charley (Sam Rockwell). When Jesse's older brother Frank (Sam Shepherd) leaves the James gang, Robert replaces him, taking his place alongside Charley and fellow gang members Dick Liddil (Paul Schneider), Wood Hite (Jeremy Renner) and Ed Miller (Garret Dillahunt).

In addition, the film recounts what happened to Ford after the shooting, with Bob and Charley touring the country re-enacting the incident and Ford eventually being branded the dirty little coward who shot James in the back.

The Good
Casey Affleck is astonishing as Ford, delivering a wonderfully detailed, thoroughly captivating performance that completely draws you in – you simply can't take your eyes off him. Similarly, Brad Pitt gives his best performance since Fight Club as James and there's strong support from the likes of Sam Rockwell and Zooey Deschanel (in a small but memorable role as Ford's eventual girlfriend, Dorothy).

The film looks stunning, courtesy of haunting cinematography from the Coen Brothers' regular collaborator, Roger Deakins – a shot of a train gradually emerging out of the darkness is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Dominik also creates a suitably mythic atmosphere by using a folksy narrator (Hugh Ross) and there's a splendid score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

The Great
There are some terrific scenes here. Highlights include the train robbery sequence and a superb scene where Ford is pressured into talking about all the ways in which he and Jesse are similar, only to be met with raucous laughter.

Worth seeing?
The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford is a thoroughly absorbing, superbly directed drama with a strong script and career-best performances from Affleck and Pitt. Unmissable.

Film Trailer

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (15)
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Content updated: 16/02/2019 12:22

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