Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford



Now that's a mouthful; Brad Pitt stars as the famous outlaw, and IMDb says his contract stipulated that the title not be changed. It was a good move, because the unwieldy moniker does not befit a traditional gunslinging picture, and this is most definitely not one. It's a period piece, a character study, a biopic, and a meditation on fame and infamy. If you go in expecting 3:10 to Yuma, you'll be sorely disappointed. This is The Thin Red Line, not Saving Private Ryan.
A bit overlong epic about the origins of infamous celebrity in America. It begins as a revisionist Western in the style of McCabe & Mrs. Miller, with Brad Pitt as Jesse in his later years, when putting together heists is often more trouble than its worth, and he seems to go through the motions of the planning, without every consummating the deed. Robert Ford's obsession with him is explained, and Casey Affleck is fantastic in the role, as he was in Gone Baby Gone; he's more talented, if less charismatic, than his brother. If you went in wanting 3:10 to Yuma you'll be sorely disappointed; this wants to be The Thin Red Line to 3:10's Saving Private Ryan, and it succeeds somewhat. It has a documentary feel with the voiceovers that appear in the third act, and I found my mind drifting as it introduced us to everyone in the middle. Maybe the voice overs should have been used throughout, and less time given to Jesse. I'm not sure. It's an enjoyable movie, but at nearly 3 hours (with the original cut topping 4) I'm not sure it's somber mood is compelling enough. It says a lot about the nature of infamy and the desire for fame, and looks beautiful doing it. A fine epic from the director of Chopper.



Rating: Worthy






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