The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Brad Pitt in period piece

Trimmed from its original running time of four hours, Dominik’s exposition of the relationship between outlaw Jesse James and his sidekick/devotee Robert Ford combines poetic visual calm, irregular but detailed dialogue and sudden bursts of violence to mesmerising effect. Dominik’s style here is hugely different from his last film (2000’s Chopper) and has a similar stylistic feel to Terence Malick.

With strong performances by Brad Pitt (James) and Ben Affleck’s brother Casey (as the creepy Ford), the film’s main questioning points are to question whether Ford was cowardly or justified in his actions and whether James is deserving of his anti-hero legend. It all points to a remarkable film and it was certainly one of 2007’s stronger cinematic releases. But as Nick Cave pops up with a somewhat jaunty murder ballad cameo way past the two hour mark, Jesse James feels a touch too laboured to be an era-defining classic.

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