Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

MUST-SEE: (Andrew Dominik) Based on the novel by Ron Hansen, The Assassination of Jesse James is a beautiful and emotional film that stretches out the true character of an infamous villain and touches on the unexplainable obsession many had for him. Writer and Director Andrew Dominik gives us both sides of the moral fence, showing us the hearts of James's closest friends, and the tragedies of his worst enemies. The film is quiet and the setting serene, yet a eerie stillness surrounds James, making each moment suspenseful. For two and a half hours, Dominik illustrates Jesse's life. We see him as a family man, a comedian, a friend and a businessman. It is from the depiction of Jesse's biggest fan, Robert Ford, we begin to see the darker side to the outlaw. We see his psychosis unravel and his merciless train robberies that carry a no regrets motto destroying hundreds of lives across the states. He lived anywhere and was known everywhere, but his reputation only struck chords with authority. Dominik does a fantastic job of setting up his audience with the double entendre of Jesse's character. Even after watching, you'll wonder whose side you should be on. No detail is left untouched and no emotion left uncovered. Each character is individualized and carefully executed by successful performances all around. Equally impressive is the breathtaking cinematography and perfectly venacular script. Simply from Casey Affleck's performance of a shrinking coward, with sunken eyes and emaciated frame, only fooling himself with a sharp tongue and a quick fire, will you understand the conflict of heart many experienced in the opinion of James. Ford went from James biggest fan, to his biggest envier, to his assassin. The fame he believed would come for shooting Jesse was no comparison to the attention Jesse's body and reputation received in the aftermath. Thus, we witness the domino of tragedies Jesse created even after his death. Assassination presents us with this family of characters, asks us to watch rather than take sides, and then beautifully delivers a story of heart and mind over action that forces you to reconcile with both your own good and evil. Don't miss seeing this masterpiece. It won't disappoint, and if you can make it through its lengthy screen time, you'll wrestle James and Ford in your heart forever.