033 - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford is the tale about Jesse James (Brad Pitt) - arguably America's most famous gangster - and his murderer Robert 'Bob' Ford (Casey Affleck).

It begins at the end. Jesse and his brother Frank are plotting their final heist and are approached by a 19-year-old Robert Ford. Robert has an unhealthy appetite for Jesse is apparent from the beginning and it is evident that Robert wishes he was more famous like the outlaw himself.

Following the heist, Robert is invited back with Jesse and their friendship peaks, but it cannot last as Jesse is too introvert to trust anyone for too long. As Robert realises that he can't be Jesse's friend, he turns to other ways to make his fame and fortune - The Assassination of Jesse James.

Theatrical Poster
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford is a film whose title says more about it than any other film I've seen. Not only does it give away the ending before a single minute has been watched, but the length of the title is an indication to the two-and-a-half hours to come.

With the length, the film delivers a sense of purpose. Although many scenes are drawn out - often unbearably so - it gives a chance for both Pitt and Affleck to show their true colours as actors. Pitt, as the criminal, displays a sense of omniscience that makes him appear both fearful and slightly insane. Affleck, as the ambitious understudy, shows his skill as the indecisive eventual murderer.

It is evident from the beginning that Andrew Dominik has taken extreme care over his beloved second film to hit the big screen. Not only is the direction outstanding, but the attention to detail is immense. No doubt this is aided by the continuously slow pace.

Ultimately, the film leaves with a sense of truth. Despite all the righteousness in the world, it rarely remembers those who do good. Outlaws are romanticised in a way known only to society's deepest self. Robin Hood was made to be the man who gave to the poor from the rich, and Jesse James was no different. Robert Ford was the outlaw who brought that to an end. That is summed up beautifully in the film's emotional finale.

If you can handle the pace, you'll love it.