The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) – REVIEW

by Jordache Wee

Release Date: September 21, 2007
Directed by: Andrew Dominik
Music by: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis
Starring: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Paul Schneider, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, Garret Dillahunt, Mary-Louise Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Alison Elliott, Kailin See, James, Carville, Michael Parks, Ted Levine, Michael Copeman, Hugh Ross

The film tells the story of Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), a seemingly insecure man seen as a coward by those around him. He grown up idolizing the outlaw, Jesse James (Brad Pitt). He finds James in Missouri and joins his gang, taking part in a train robbery.

Jeese James (Brad Pitt) sitting on far left with his gang, while Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) standing on the far right

Gradually, he forms a complex love and hate relationship with James, still admiring him to the point of obsession, but also becoming resentful and somewhat fearful due to James’ bullying nature. Even after the gang members have gone their separate ways after the last train robbery, Jesse James takes to calling in on his old gang, killing some of them and terrorizing the relatives of others.

Ford ends up shooting Wood Hite (Jeremy Renner) after he comes to the house looking for Dick Liddil (Paul Schneider). Wood and Dick had a falling out because Dick defiled Wood’s father’s wife in Kentucky. Resulting in a gunbattle, Ford shoots Wood in the head just as he is about to do the same to Dick.

Robert lookon at his brother, Charley (Sam Rockwell)

Jesse not knowing Ford and his brother Charley (Sam Rockwell) are hired to arrest James by Governor Crittenden (James Carville). This is not as easy a task as it seems: Charley is too scared of Jesse to raise his gun against him and Jesse proves on more than one occasion that he is never out of reach for his guns. Even when he appears to be asleep, he can awaken at a moment upon hearing the sound of a gun drawn or footsteps. Given these circumstances, Robert decides killing him would be safer.

On the day of the shooting, both Ford boys wrestle with task they have been given, especially Charley. Robert notices a paper on the couch with the headline “The Arrest and Confession of Dick Liddil” and hides it under a cushion from Jesse. Jesse finds the paper and reads about how he was caught three weeks before and asks Robert if he was in the area.

There seem to be some silent thought as if he knows that his time has come that, Jesse takes his gun belt off. He notice a dusty picture on the wall then watches in the reflection of the picture as Ford draws his gun and shoots him from behind.

The body of Jesse James was examined and sold to circus troupe and onwards to museum as public display to tell everyone that Jesse James will no longer terrorize the town.

After the assassination, Robert and and Charley become actors in a theater show. They portrayed as Jesse James and Robert Ford himself shooting Jesse in the head from repetitiously. Until one scene, he was shunned by one audience as a coward shooter. Enraged, he fought with the audience.

Ten years later, he seems to own a saloon and met a dancer named Dorothy Evans (Zooey Deschanel). He confessed to her about his murder and betrayal to Jesse James.

The next day at the saloon, an unknown man said, “Hello Bob”. And Robert was shot and died instantly.

Reviewer’s Note:
This is one of my favorite film. The motion sequence captured in every scene is just mesmerizing. The lighting and the colors being played here just perfectly blend with the natural surrounding. The narrator provides a handy job to make it a downfall film about Jesse James.

The music just scores all the name. Thanks to Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.


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