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Based on the novel by Ron Hansen, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” delves into the private lives of America’s most notorious outlaw and his unlikely assassin to offer a new perspective on a legend and address the question of what really may have transpired in the months before that infamous shooting.
Action Western - Despite the presence of Ocean's stars Brad Pitt and Casey
Affleck, this is no crowd-pleasing, action-oriented western but a
long, leisurely, downbeat, and meditative drama. The film will find
widely divided reactions, but those drawn for more action-oriented
western trappings won't find them here.
Berardinelli, Internet CriticFull Review Above Average The Assassination of Jesse James starts and finishes strong, but it will lose numerous viewers during a frustrating, meandering middle section that spends so much time fleshing out secondary characters that it often forgets about the title individuals.
USA TodayFull Review Excellent Though there is plenty of gunplay, this is a wondrously contemplative and poetic saga that offers a fresh and bewitching take on a timeworn genre.
Note: The rating
above is our interpretation of what the critic would give this movie based on
their review. We are not affiliated with these critic's in any way.
Jesse James [BRAD PITT] was one of the country's first bona fide celebrities.
There have been countless books written and tales told about America's most famous
outlaw—all of them colorful and fascinating, all focused on his larger-than-life public persona
and daring exploits, and most of them bearing only incidental reference to the truth.
To those he robbed and terrorized, and to the families of those he admittedly killed, he
may have been just a criminal, but in the sensational newspaper articles and dime novels
chronicling the James Gang throughout the 1870s, Jesse was the object of awe and admiration.
He was a Robin Hood, they suggested, targeting railroad owners and banks that exploited poor
farmers. He was a man with a tragic cause, a wronged and wounded Confederate soldier striking
back against the Union that had ruined his life. Most importantly, to an increasingly
and citified population leading ordinary lives, he was the last frontiersman—a symbol of
freedom and the American spirit, a charismatic rebel who flouted the law and lived by his own
rules…by all accounts, a legend.
Foremost among his admirers was Robert Ford [CASEY AFFLECK], an idealistic and
ambitious young man who had devoted his life to the hope of one day riding alongside his idol.
He could never have imagined that history would ultimately mark him as the "the dirty little
coward” who shot Jesse in the back.
But who was Jesse James, really—behind the folklore and the selling of newspapers?
And who was Robert Ford, just nineteen and a member of Jesse's inner circle, who was able to
bring down such a formidable figure when lawmen across ten states had tried and failed? How
did they come to be friends and what happened between them in the days and hours leading up to
the gunshot that would end one man's life and become the definition and sum total of another's?
No one will ever know the whole truth.