The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford came at an odd time in Hollywood’s history. This was an era where people simply did not like Westerns anymore. Westerns were hugely popular back in the 1960s, as people were enjoying the gun-toting action and gratuitous badassery of their gunslinging heroes. However, once that wave ended, Westerns were essentially dead for good. There were a few films that came out since then that did bring new light to them, but none did it so well until The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford started a new wave of Westerns, more soulful and philosophical works from that point onwards.
How to Download The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
You can download the film from a digital store. You can also stream it. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. If you like revisionist western films, check out also our review of The Power of the Dog, Django Unchained, or The Hateful Eight.
The Movie Review
Jesse James is a mystery to his own family, leading a covert existence in Kansas City under a false name. It’s 1881, and he’s 34, with a gang consisting of Robert Ford, Charley Ford, Frank James, Wood Hite, Ed Miller, and Dick Liddil. They make up the remainder of his crew while the only two surviving original members of the gang are Jesse and Frank, and for years, these young members have idolized Jesse and Frank. However, Robert Ford’s disillusioned mind would drive him to do things that he would always regret after seeing Jesse James’ waning humanity.
Although Andrew Dominik shoots a stunning film, his narrative drags on and on. This film is exceedingly sluggish and lasts an astounding 2 hours and 40 minutes. Despite being incredibly slow, the screenplay and acting in this movie manage to keep you interested in its drama.
You realize quite quickly what kind of film this is, and it’s safe to say that it’s not your typical Western. This film was trying to be something completely different, with a more poignant approach to filmmaking rather than a rambunctious and snappy one with lots of one-liners, bad guys, and cheesy dialogues. It instead emphasizes the character development of the true and tested protagonists, both Bob Ford and Jesse James are the center focus here and they are explored to the film’s darkest and deepest of moments.
By far, Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Jesse James is his best work. Brad Pitt blends into Jesse like mangoes and milk, leaving an aftertaste you simply can’t forget. Brad Pitt delivers his most tormented, endearing, and frightful performance to date, exuding tenderness and compassion for a highly unlikeable and aggressive character while making the audience feel uncomfortable at every glance. However, even if Brad Pitt is absolutely phenomenal, Casey Affleck’s portrayal of Robert Ford deserves the most praise in my opinion.
This is the film where I realized this actor will go places, and he did eventually win huge awards for Manchester by the Sea! It’s fascinating to watch as he gradually loses faith in his idol, he starts to get incredibly terrified of Jesse James, and Casey Affleck portrays that beautifully.
The Visuals and Music
The movie’s visuals surpass anything else in the Western genre in my opinion. The legendary Roger Deakins, a man who has two of the best visual eyes, takes full control of the presentation. He uses every trick in his book of cinematographic genius, including shots composed completely in natural light, beautifully textured colors, meticulous timing, and beautiful fade-ins and fade-outs. The shots that are focusing on landscape, especially in the rain and the snow are some of the prettiest in the Western genre.
The train robbery sequence at the beginning of the movie is where Deakins’ involvement really shines. Not to mention, elevating the execution even further, are Nick Cave and Warren Ellis with their monumental soundtrack. The music is just fantastic, heartbreaking, and haunting.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a film that gives away its entire story in just the title. So, it begins to move you in ways you wouldn’t expect, through soulful cinematography, meditative landscapes, and realistic dialogue. It sticks around for a bit too long with its lengthy run time, but it uses most of its time well, focusing on the characters and the phenomenal performances of the actors playing them. This is a film not to be missed.
- The film has a beautiful story, soulful and haunting
- The acting is phenomenal by each member of the cast, especially Affleck and Pitt
- The cinematography is incredible, Deakins is a true artist
- The music is simply profound and heartwarming
- The film does go on for a bit too long, could’ve been shortened