Warner Bros. Pictures | Release Date: September 21, 2007
7.9
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 202 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
163
Mixed:
22
Negative:
17
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6
fungusgnatJun 8, 2016
For a synopsis of the film, see the title, an essay in itself. The film is similarly lengthy, unfolding leisurely over two hours and forty minutes. While nominally a Western, TAOJJBTCRF quiets down after the only gunfight, less than 45For a synopsis of the film, see the title, an essay in itself. The film is similarly lengthy, unfolding leisurely over two hours and forty minutes. While nominally a Western, TAOJJBTCRF quiets down after the only gunfight, less than 45 minutes in. That’s just as well, because what’s on the screen is a character-driven drama about hero worship as self-realization—and that’s self-realization of the destructive kind. Character is well portrayed, dialog realistically written and well played, and the extra-wide 2.35:1 aspect ratio constantly brings in the bleak natural environment as an additional role, one that is in a sense voiced by a narrator. Photography and editing are beautifully done, and the tinkly musical score works better than might have been expected. A decent film, if a bit mannered, worth a second look. DVD has no special features about the film itself, Blu-Ray notwithstanding. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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5
ThegodfathersonOct 27, 2013
Moseying along for 160 minutes, this revisionist western by writer-director Andrew Dominik makes a wan attempt to present the Jesse James legend as the dawn of celebrity culture in America. This film is far too long but the centralMoseying along for 160 minutes, this revisionist western by writer-director Andrew Dominik makes a wan attempt to present the Jesse James legend as the dawn of celebrity culture in America. This film is far too long but the central relationship of James and Ford is fascinating.
...it's got a title that perfectly matches its subject matter: They're both too long by half.
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1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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4
DWillySep 28, 2007
Okay, you don't have to like characters to be interested in their story, but, really... let the dweeb shoot the psycho in the back and lets get it over with, already. The pictures are beautiful, there's a level of professionalism Okay, you don't have to like characters to be interested in their story, but, really... let the dweeb shoot the psycho in the back and lets get it over with, already. The pictures are beautiful, there's a level of professionalism to the work and, admittedly, some dynamic scenes, but with narration tricky enough under the best of circumstances; how did they convince themselves they could get away with aping the narration from "Ken Burn's Civil War" without inducing groans. Expand
1 of 4 users found this helpful
5
DaveL.Sep 30, 2007
Very good movie, but way too long.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
4
RobOct 22, 2008
Visually, very well done. But slow, and way too long. Unbearably so. Had it been a little faster I could have dealt with the length. But I had to watch it in two sittings, I couldn't watch it all at once, without falling asleep. Not a Visually, very well done. But slow, and way too long. Unbearably so. Had it been a little faster I could have dealt with the length. But I had to watch it in two sittings, I couldn't watch it all at once, without falling asleep. Not a total loss though. It is very interesting, and I was very into it at the onset, but eventually it lost me in the middle, only to get me back interested in the end. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
4
JoyceK.Oct 11, 2007
Too long and boring.
0 of 3 users found this helpful
5
JoyceC.Sep 23, 2007
I never thought Jesse James was going to be that bad.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
6
JayH.Feb 3, 2008
6.5/10. Beautifully filmed, but very very slow and way overlong. The acting is great by everyone, the cinematography is superb. It has amazing period atmosphere. Very well written. I am sure the slow pacing was deliberate, but that 6.5/10. Beautifully filmed, but very very slow and way overlong. The acting is great by everyone, the cinematography is superb. It has amazing period atmosphere. Very well written. I am sure the slow pacing was deliberate, but that doesn't prevent it from being boring at times. Most of the rating here is for the quality of the production. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
6
MovieMasterEddyApr 4, 2016
Good, Bad or Ugly: A Legend Shrouded in Gunsmoke Remains Hazy.

Before a bullet shattered his skull in 1882, Jesse James cut a bloody swath through parts of the Midwest and the South, leaving a trail of corpses and favorable press notices
Good, Bad or Ugly: A Legend Shrouded in Gunsmoke Remains Hazy.

Before a bullet shattered his skull in 1882, Jesse James cut a bloody swath through parts of the Midwest and the South, leaving a trail of corpses and favorable press notices in his wake. Bad man, poor man, bushwhacker, thief, James was as American as apple pie and the Confederate flag he wrapped himself in like an excuse. That bard of the great unwashed, Woody Guthrie, compared him to Robin Hood, and decades later Bruce Springsteen kept the fires burning, singing about a homespun legend as seductive as it is false.

The lachrymose new film “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” adds another gauzy chapter to the overtaxed James myth, if not much rhyme or reason, heart or soul. Topped by Brad Pitt wearing boot-black hair and a faraway stare, this is a portrait of the murderer as a middle-aged man as seen through the curious mirror of celebrity. At a well-seasoned 34, James lives in an ordinary house in an ordinary town, where he sits in his backyard smoking cigars and handling snakes, a devil playing at preacher. His days with Confederacy guerrillas are long gone, as are most of his crimes. Among his closest companions now is his greatest fan, Bob Ford, a gunslinger slyly played by Casey Affleck.

As its title announces, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is about a murder, the last violent chapter in a cruelly violent life. As such, it’s also about a celebrity stalker, a kind of Mark David Chapman in spurs who nurses an annihilating love for the object of his obsession. It’s an obsession fueled and fanned by the media, including the sympathetic newsmen who saw James as a heroic anti-Reconstructionist, and the fiction writers who memorialized and even exalted the brutal exploits of his gang. Like a schoolgirl with a crush, Bob Ford keeps his treasured Jesse James dime novels in a box under his bed. When he caresses the cover of one book, it’s as if he were tenderly stroking a lover’s cheek.

If there was more to Bob’s love, you won’t find it here, despite a coy bathtub scene that finds James luxuriating in milky water while the younger man hovers uncertainly nearby. “You want to be like me or do you want to be me?” asks James, casting his glance back at the man others would later brand Judas. In this nearly all-male world of camaraderie and gunsmoke, where little women bustle discreetly in the background (including Mary-Louise Parker as James’s wife, Zee), the ways of the flesh, of heaving, stinking, struggling humanity, have little place. For all their exploded bone and ravaged pulp, their trickles and rivulets of blood, the men in this film aren’t as much bodies as beautiful, empty signifiers.

In his last — and first — feature film, “Chopper” (2000), the New Zealand-born director Andrew Dominik seemed on the same wavelength as his raucous, at times queasy, entertaining subject, the ultrabrutal criminal reprobate of the title, played by Eric Bana. Neither overtly sympathetic nor disapproving, the filmmaker presented his villain as a larger-than-life but unequivocally human grotesque. Using color like an Expressionist, he bleached the screen a sizzling white that turned blood red nearly black and splashed on hues of bilious green and urine yellow as if to suggest that Chopper’s fluids had leaked from his body to contaminate his surroundings. The colors sicken and beguile, as does the human riddle at their center.

There’s a different riddle in “The Assassination of Jesse James,” staring into a florid sunset, slashes of red cutting across the sky. Dressed in near-all black, the question mark known as Jesse James stands away from the camera, knee-deep in a golden, grassy field stirred by the wind or perhaps just an off-screen mechanical fan.

It’s a striking, pleasing image, whatever the case, pretty as a picture postcard, a vision of man and nature that brings to mind Thoreau at Walden Pond or more precisely Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven.” James is also facing West, of course, toward the last frontier, home to cowboys and Indians and prospectors of all types, including, soon enough, those who will wield movie cameras, not six-shooters.

The true story of Jesse James, despite all the dime novels and B movies, remains untold, perhaps because in its savagery it really is as American as apple pie and, as such, unspeakably hard to tell.
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