Sunday, January 10, 2010

#396: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Director: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Brad Pitt & Casey Affleck

Jesse James was one of the greatest outlaws of American history. After he and his brother Frank fought as Confederate guerillas in the Civil War, they started one of the greatest gangs ever to exist. They became living legends in the 1870’s, when they robbed banks, trains and stagecoaches. After many members of the gang were killed in 1876, they recruited new members, including the young Robert Ford. Robert idolized Jesse in childhood, but his view of the great antihero begins to change shape while living in the James household, and decides to kill his former idol to collect a state reward.

The premise of the film is wonderful, studying Robert Ford rather than the more infamous Jesse James. Of course, we know what happens to James from the outset. It is Affleck’s portrayal of Ford that really makes the film interesting. Ford’s view of James is carefully analyzed, showing how legends can often be far from the truth.

However, this was one boring movie. It doesn’t help that I couldn’t understand about half of what the characters were saying with their greatly slurred Southern accents. I also found the narrator’s voice one of the most lulling performances in recent history. It was really only the last 10 or 15 minutes of the film that really stood out to me, describing what happened once Jesse James was killed.

Certainly a good choice for history buffs. Otherwise, meh.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • When Jesse goes looking for Jim Cummins he introduces himself as "Dick Turpin". Dick Turpin was a legendary English rogue and famous historical highwayman romanticized in English ballads and popular theatre of the 18th and 19th century. Dick Liddil introduces himself as "Matt Collins", which is actually a play on the name of Liddil's wife, Mattie Collins.
  • According to Andrew Dominik, Brad Pitt had it put in his contract that the name of the movie was not to be changed.

1 comment:

  1. I basically agree with this - great premise, performances, music (honestly, one of my favorite soundtracks), cinematography... BORING movie. Pity!