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:: The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford delves into the fascinating lives of both American outlaw Jesse James and Robert Ford, and the end result is very intense. The film is based on the 1983 book and directed by Andrew Dominik, who is most famous for his work with ‘Chopper’.

Brad Pitt plays the infamous American outlaw Jesse James extremely well, depicting him as a very dark, moody and aggressive character. As viewers already know the inevitable outcome of the story, Jesse, strangely enough, isn’t the central character, although he wheels a dangerous power over all that meet and know him. A key narrator gives a powerful insight into the minds of the members of the notorious James Brothers’ Gang, particularly into 19-year-old newcomer Robert Ford, played by Casey Affleck. Jesse’s gang members both fear and respect him. Robert though, idolises him, mimicking his every move and gesture, memorising his every murder and robbery. Slightly creepy, the naïve young Robert convinces Jesse to make him part of the gang.

The film is all about game-playing, with Jesse staying ahead most of the way through two-hour and forty-minute film. Jesse is always a step ahead of his members, knowing who will betray and who has betrayed, always catching them in the end.

A nervous energy bubbles between himself and the Robert, drawing viewers into their powerful intensity. Coinciding with the aggressive side of Jesse, is a softer side and more than once he is seen confused and upset. The end of the film turns its focus on Robert Ford, who is given the ultimate choice to kill Jesse or go to jail. The question that viewers are forced to ask themselves is – who exactly was the hero? In the end, Robert killed the dangerous outlaw, but people ended up turning on him for his decision. To add to that, he feels like a coward and lives the rest of his days tortured, because he had idolised Jesse since childhood and he wasn’t given a choice about the murder. Or was he?

A complicated plot already, the viewer is eventually left feeling confused about who exactly they should feel sorry for. ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ is a long and drawn out film. However, the strange energy between Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck keeps viewers wanting to watch to the very end.

Movie-goers who like something a bit different will also appreciate this film, which brings blockbuster names, but an art-house approach. Watch out for the Nick Cave’s and Warren Ellis’ score to the film and a short appearance towards the end.