The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
starring Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louis Parker, Paul Schneider, Jeremy
Renner, Garett Dillahunt, Zooey Deschanel, Michael Parks, Ted Levine and Sam Rockwell
written and directed by Andrew Dominik
See this movie. It’s good. It’s well acted and visually it’s just very nice to look at. It tells the story of the last years of the James Gang - led by infamous outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt) and his older brother, Frank (Sam Shepard). For those (like Europeans or Asians) who don’t know the background of the gun-slinging outlaw (not the itinerant laborer, gun-toting cowboy, who was a completely different character in American society than the gun-slinging outlaw) in the wild American West this movie can teach a lot. It is great acting by Pitt and Casey Affleck
Based on the novel by Ron Hansen, this is not the first time the James story - or, rather, the story of the murder of James - has been made into a motion picture. Jesse James was killed in 1881 at the age of 34 by one of his own gang, ending his gang’s 14-year career. Affleck plays Robert Ford, a doting fan of the outlaw. His character is more than a little annoying - annoying to other characters in the story as well as to members of the audience - for his simple-minded, star-struck adoration and refusal to just go away. But I credit Affleck’s acting for portraying Ford as he did. (Remember that in Missouri Jesse James was somewhat of a folk hero. He was known and walked the streets without being arrested or molested. He enjoyed protection from many sympathizers, supporters and followers, relatives, relatives of friends and friends of relatives. It was a clannish frontier society.) James was a man whose hagiography was told through cheap novels while he still lived, and despite his frank admission that such reading was a heap of lies, Ford couldn’t take it in and remained a fawning disciple in a swoon from his hero’s charisma, making it harder to become the Judas.