The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford
Directed by Andrew Dominik
Written by Andrew Dominik based on the novel by Ron Hansen
Brad Pitt headed slow artsy movie about wild West outlaws, Jesse being a bit past his prime but oozing cool in every scene. It’s beautifully shot, reminds me some of True Grit or other modern Westerns, very lyrical in the way they’re filmed. Lots of scenery and sharp lighting. Lots of orange and teal.
Robert Ford is played by Casey Affleck with a goofy charm, a fan boy to Pitt’s James, wanting so much to be with him and also be cool about it. I thought it was odd that Jesse sent Robert away so early in the movie, the story didn’t exactly flow for me. But then, maybe it’s meant to be more about the atmosphere and the characters than the story.. it did feel rather episodic.
Sam Rockwell was very good as Jesse’s slightly dim brother, I enjoyed his performance.
Look I love a good Western but I’m not sure I can classify this as a good one. I am used to them being slow, and full of stoic people, but somehow this one didn’t gel. Maybe it’s to do with it being self consciously made to be slow and sparse to be like the Leone movies instead of using the pace and the silence of its characters to mean something.
Does it make me love the people? Well this is hard to answer to be honest. Everyone’s a slow drawling cool person who likes to stare a lot. I found it a bit tough to connect to them as humans. I guess I do feel for Jesse and Robert, I think I’d care a lot more if they made it more about a gay obsession than just a messed up hero worship. It would be easier to connect to.
I know people complain about the multiple endings of Return of the King but jeeze, it seemed like this movie had seven thousand false endings. I was very ready for it to be over!
Bechdel test: there are barely women in it. There’s like, one woman and she has maybe two scenes where she talks. This movie is allllll about the menfolks. Zooey Deschenal gets a couple of words at the end. Really not a women movie.
Jesse James: [Bob walks in on Jesse in the bath] Go away.
Robert Ford: Used to be nobody could sneak up on Jesse James.
Jesse James: Now you think otherwise?
Robert Ford: I ain’t never seen you without your guns, neither.
[Jesse removes a towel, revealing his gun]
Jesse James: [pause] Can’t figure it out: do you want to be like me or do you want to BE me?
Robert Ford: [defeated] I’m just making fun is all.
State of Mind: I think my favourite bit was Nick Cave’s cameo. Oh and seeing Zooey Deschenal playing a bit more sombre than normal.