The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The inevitably interesting relation between Jesse James and Bob Ford, with the fascinating ambiguity and naivety that, by all accounts, harboured in the latter, is the main course in this overlong, conceited film by Andrew Dominik. It is a story that should have been told in half the time, and preferably without the following three aspects: the documentary-emulating voice-over, the completely suspense-killing narrative structure, and Brad Pitt as Jesse James. In order to produce the complexity of the James/Ford gang’s final days, Dominik seems determined to include every parenthesis and sub-clause. And he seemingly justifies it with his deglamorizing portrait of the west. Unfortunately, he seems to confuse the deglamorization of the Jesse James saga with a denarration. It might well be truthful, but it is also loiteringly pragmatic. As a result, we’re not given any juice in exchange for the fun we’re deprived of. Not even a tint of Jesse James' wild side, or any other side of him, for that matter. In Dominik’s version, James is reduced to a Brad Pitt puppet in cowboy boots, leaving Casey Affleck’s brilliant interpretation as Ford as the films most (bordering on only) interesting card.