What movie was that...?

02 November 2009

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

directed by Andrew Dominik

With a title like that, you had better believe that Andrew Dominik’s powerhouse of a western packs a punch, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. The film, revolving around the final years of Jesse James and the men he kept close to him, practically busts at the seams with such talent that, to see them all at once in the same film is pure cinema ecstasy. Sam Shepard, Jeremy Renner, Paul Schneider, Sam Rockwell and Garret Dillahunt (Dillahunt excels in one of my favorite roles of all time) all give such award caliber performances that are far greater than the sum of their parts. And Casey Affleck gives the performance of his career (to date, of course, for I know how far he can go) as Robert Ford, the hero worshipper who let his drive for fame overtake his admiration. To watch Affleck embody one of the most misunderstood historical figures in America is to watch a true master of the craft. Affleck has given some of the best and most understated performances of the past few years, including a turn in the Gus Van Sant stunner Gerry, and working with his older bro Ben in the marvelous Gone, Baby Gone, but his portrayal of Ford is heartbreaking perfection. In fact, when you have Roger Deakins as cinematographer, Dylan Tichenor editing, and Nick Cave composing music, you have 99% of the components necessary to create the perfect western. You have given us a film for the ages, Mr D, a fully loaded piece of stoic beauty.

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