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Moriarty Mulls Over The Legend And The Truth Of THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD!

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here. Andrew Dominik took his time making his follow-up to CHOPPPER, his debut feature that was largely responsible for launching the international career of Eric Bana. Second films can be make or break for filmmakers, but Dominik has turned that long hiatus into a best-case scenario, not only improving as a filmmaker, but creating something transcendent in the process. I’ve heard many people compare the trailer for THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD to a Terrence Malick film, and I can see how the initial imagery might make someone think that. But as the film ended, it wasn’t Malick I was thinking of. Instead, I would compare this film to the heyday of Coppola, and I honestly feel like JESSE JAMES is populist art on par with THE GODFATHER. This is a leisurely film, but it’s rich and rewarding at every turn, and I found it intensely absorbing. I’m not sure what I expected, especially after hearing vague rumblings about all sorts of struggles between the filmmaker and the studio. None of that shows up onscreen, though. This is a confident film, and there’s no sign of anyone interfering in Dominik’s vision. This is one of those films where you can just get lost in it, transported completely to the time and place, and that’s a testament to just how strong a filmmaker Dominik is. Ron Hansen’s novel is a lovely, well-researched piece. It doesn’t particularly demand translation to film. Instead, it provokes by establishing some of the big ideas that Dominik played with in his screenplay. He’s taken the book, digested it, and then created something wholly his own in terms of visual language, something particularly suited to telling this story. Working with the great Roger Deakins, he’s created an approach that burnishes the edges of the frame at times, like a fading photograph. It’s bold, but it’s not just a gimmick... a hook... it thematically underlines everything that’s going on. After all... it’s not like Jesse James is a particularly new subject for a film. It’s not like Dominik is covering virgin ground here. What, in particular, is Dominik saying with the choices he makes? The answer lies in the way he depicts Robert Ford in the film, and the fact that he chose Casey Affleck for the role. 2007 is going to be remembered as Casey Affleck’s “moment,” thanks to the combination of this and GONE BABY GONE (which I’ll be reviewing soon), and his work in this film changed the way I thought about him as an actor. He’s amazing in this film. That may seem like a rather blunt declaration, but there’s no other way to put it. If I’m going to equate JESSE JAMES with THE GODFATHER, then Affleck got the John Cazale role, and he absolutely spot-on nails it. Robert Ford has grown up living on the edge of the West, both geographically and metaphorically. He devours the penny dreadfuls, the published exploits of the famous outlaws of the day, and he believes in the mythology that’s being spun, believes it more than he believes his own day-to-day experience. He wants to be a big famous outlaw because he’s grown up with them as pop figures. Robert Ford believes in the romance of the West. And at times, so does Dominik. He loves the iconography. He’s obviously studied vintage photography, and he painstakingly recreates the reality of the age. At the same time, he lets his actors plays things in a very modern, naturalistic way. As with DEADWOOD, it’s the emotional reality rather than an exact loyalty to the real language of the day that makes this work. These events may have taken place a century ago, but this is a film about contemporary concerns, about things that feel urgent and immediate even now. There are more Robert Fords than ever before now, and why would we expect otherwise? We inundate people with this bullshit, this white noise of celebrity, bombarding them with the most-likely-fabricated personal lives of people we have no business giving a shit about in the first place, and then we act shocked as a culture when people develop unhealthy interests in the private lives of these public figures. Robert Ford knows who and what he is, but he rejects it. He rejects the notion of normalcy because he knows something else exists. He sees what Jesse James has become as an icon, as a figure, as a symbol, and that’s what he wants. He won’t settle for anything else. He won’t be happy just living a decent life. He needs some piece of that fame. He can’t just admire the icon; he has to ingest it, become it. The way Casey Affleck inhabits Robert Ford, the way he brings him to itchy, uncomfortable life, this is a defining portrait. This is Robert Ford as we’re going to know him now. This is the interpretation that I think will loom largest. It’s funny... it’s hard to talk about this film without dragging DEADWOOD into the discussion at least a little bit. Garret Dillahunt was fantastic on DEADWOOD playing Jack McCall, the coward who shot and killed Wild Bill Hickok, and his character’s arc was one of the most memorable things in that show’s first year. Dillahunt shows up here as part of the James gang, Ed Miller, and he feels at home in the period. In fact, the entire gang is perfectly cast. Sam Rockwell plays Charley Ford, Jeremy Renner plays Wood Hite, Sam Shepard makes a brief appearance as Frank James, and the great Paul Schneider damn near steals the film as Dick Liddil. They’re obviously not the first guys to play these parts, and they sure as hell won’t be the last, but they manage the difficult trick of making me forget any other interpretations as I’m watching them work. I simply buy these guys as the characters, and for once, I’m not thinking about what postmodern statement is being made and I’m not thinking about THE LONG RIDERS or I SHOT JESSE JAMES or THE GREAT NORTHFIELD MINNESOTA RAID or even JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER. It helps that Brad Pitt was pretty much born to play this part. His public and private lives seem to both have been warm-up to what he brings to this role. I think Pitt is among the very best actors of his generation, and I think he has two modes: good and holy-shit-great. This is one of his holy-shit-great performances, on par with 12 MONKEYS or SE7EN or FIGHT CLUB or SNATCH. There are moments where Pitt taps something on film... not in every film, mind you, but in certain movies, and sometimes only in certain scenes... and something happens to his eyes. There are certain things I don’t think you can fake as an actor... you either tune into something real inside you, or you don’t. Madness is one of those things, and without presuming to know anything about Pitt off-camera, there is real madness in him. Real violence. Genuine fury, jet-black and ugly and just barely kept at a simmer. When he lets that simmer boil over, even if it’s just for a second or two, it’s genuinely scary. I found it oddly moving to see how he played James as a man who is so accustomed to protecting his personality that he is even a cipher to his friends and family, unable to reveal himself or relax even when he wants to. It must be horrible when your fiction eclipses your reality, and Pitt knows how to play that. I’m excited to revisit this film so I can experience certain sequences again. There’s a robbery at the start of the film, a nighttime attack on a train, that is one of the most exciting sequences I’ve seen in anything this year, but there are at least four or five big dialogue scenes that I consider just as thrilling as set pieces. That’s uncommon these days, but a film like this is all character. What I find most thrilling is the way the film takes its time building to the inevitable. That title pretty much tells you what to expect, and I love how it is a title like you would have found on an account of these events at the time. Those books that Robert Ford read that got him so wound up in the first place? Well, this is what one of them would be called if it was about these events, and the fact that he is so definitively the villain of that title sums up the tragedy and the sorrow of the choices Ford makes in the film. Think about it... Jesse James is one of the most famous outlaws of all time. Hell, he’s arguably one of the most famous Americans up to that point. But he is famous as a murderer and a thief, a reckless killer. When Robert Ford stopped him, he had to be imagining himself in the role of the hero to some degree, and some of my favorite material has to do with how Ford lived after the defining moment of his life. Watching the realization set in that he will never be remembered as a hero, watching it eat at him, watching it destroy his brother Charley (Sam Rockwell, always good, plays haunted as well as anyone could hope to)... Dominik makes sure to take his time with this material, because so much of what the film’s really about is contained here, after Jesse has exited the film. There are films that I occasionally recommend with various warnings attached: “this is for very particular tastes,” “not for everyone,” “challenging.” These are all code for “some of you are going to hate this movie and hate me for recommending you see it.” Often, those are the so-called “art films,” off-mainstream fare that many audiences simply aren’t interested in. Do not make the mistake of thinking that THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD is one of those films. This is a movie that I really believe can work for any audience, even with a running time within spitting distance of three hours. This is an essentially American film, a great one, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it at the end of the year. For now, I’ve got the morning’s updates to prepare, and more reviews for you over the course of the weekend. This film opens in limited release today, while EASTERN PROMISES goes wide and the excellent INTO THE WILD also opens some exclusive dates. Lots of options for you guys, and lots of work for me while Quint and Merrick and Harry and the Austin crew wallow in the decadent pleasures of Fantastic Fest.


Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 21, 2007, 6:56 a.m. CST

    Good stuff

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    Im so looking forward to this one :)

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 7:18 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to this now

    by CeefaxTheCat

    For some reason it wasn't tickling my fancy but Mori has talked me round.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Sounds amazing...

    by tile_mcgillus

    Can't wait! Thanks for the great review!

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 7:43 a.m. CST

    But did Elton John do the soundtrack?!?!

    by chrth

    And I feel like a bullet in the gun of Robert Ford ... I'm low as a paid assassin is ...

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 8:14 a.m. CST

    Pitt's Holy Shit roles

    by arrangedletters

    Do include True Romance. Do NOT include Legends of the Fall.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 8:29 a.m. CST

    Pitt's outstanding mediocrity.

    by all

    One of the best of this generation? Are you fucking kidding? Don't you notice him more often than not laboring under the effort of his chosen profession? When I see Brad Pitt acting, that's exactly what I see: Brad Pitt acting. I'll give him credit for having chosen good roles in good popcorn flicks, but most of his efforts to prove any kind of range (ugh, Seven Years in Tibet) have been embarrassing. That being said I think Casey Affleck is great and I'll go see this because it was filmed in my home town...

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 8:36 a.m. CST

    sold

    by LegoKenobi

    i was already marginally interested in this movie, but your review has sold me. i'm in. and i'm in the "best of his generation camp" regarding brad pitt, too. when he's good, he's very very good, and when he's not, he's at least watchable.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 8:44 a.m. CST

    Another great review

    by PotSmokinAlien

    don't worry about missing FF mori, it will be quint and harry sniping at each other about each other's Diary of the Dead reviews. while merrick sits there getting drunk and giggling... or whatever he does, i am basing that judgement off of his posts

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 8:54 a.m. CST

    Casey's always been good, I think

    by abcdefz7

    He put nice spark into GOOD WILL HUNTING, gets sort of wasted in the OCEAN'S movies, but then I saw GERRY and it just confirmed that -- hey, this guy's *good.* I checked out LONESOME JIM, and he was fantastic in that -- a pretty brave performance; he has a scene or two where you just can't believe what a selfish little shit this guy is. Anyway, he's been the draw for me on the JESSE JAMES project since I first heard about it. I'm really looking forward to this one.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 9:43 a.m. CST

    Jack McCall

    by Al Swearengen

    I actually met that droop-eyed, cunt Jack McCall. Cowardly cocksucker. Somehow Jack thought it was a good idea to run his fuckin' mouth at Wild Bill Hickock, playin' poker and the like. Then one day, over at Tom Nuttall's, he thought it was a better fuckin' idea to blow a hole behind Hickock's fuckin' ear. Funny how afterwards Jack didn't think but had to be told to run for his fuckin' life.<P>Never did meet Jesse James. But he sounds like my kind of rogue.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 9:53 a.m. CST

    Is this the first Pitt movie to open limited?

    by jones1899

    Any clue when this opens wide?

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Agreed, I've been waiting for Casey to get his due.

    by brokentusk

    This film sounds fantastic. If the performances are as good as you say they, Moriarty, I hope the Academy takes notice. It's time Casey Affleck became a star.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:08 a.m. CST

    "Get some beer.....and cleaning prducts"

    by gride9000

    Yes the man is mostly a doooshbaig, but god dam if he doesn't make me laugh (see previous artical about Troy). Give it up to the guy, My girlfriend asked to go see Fight Club. He keeps showing up in baddass guy films like 12 monkeys,Snach, True Romance, i guess also Kalifornia and that Tales from the crypt episode. My girlfriend likes all of these, because of his cute ass. Watching fight club is better when it proceeds some hot sex (and shes fucking like a champ because she fantasizing bout Tyler Durden.)He's doing all us boyfriends a favor.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:10 a.m. CST

    Wow, sir!

    by Archive

    How am I supposed ot ignore a review like that? I'd written this one off. Hmm...

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Yo, fuck Casy Afleck you dum fuks

    by gride9000

    That dude is garbage, like his Mongaliod big brother. I hope he chokes on a dick. I hope you choke on one two if you like this guy.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 11:01 a.m. CST

    No No No

    by Renholder

    This film was beyond mediocre. It was long, uninspired and convoluted. They couldn't have possibly muffed it up any more. Don't see this. Go to Eastern Promises instead.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 11:04 a.m. CST

    How can you have Aint-It-Cool News without mentioning..

    by IAmLegolas

    that Nick Cave (with Warren Ellis) does the soundtrack and has a cameo?

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Sounds like something special. I am sold on it, too.

    by JDanielP

    Just one question: Has greedy HBO dropped the price on those DEADWOOD dvds yet???

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:06 p.m. CST

    wrong about Dillahunt

    by srh1son

    "Garret Dillahunt didn't play Jack McCall, Wild Bill's assassin, on DEADWOOD. He played Francis Wolcott, the high society psycho who liked killing whores and eventually hanged himself. He also played Matthew Ross, one of the Marked, on seasons 2 and 3 of "The 4400".

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:09 p.m. CST

    Welcome to the Fold

    by Ohiofile

    Thanks Moriarty for reviewing this and bringing it in for the people who read this sight and only trust your opinion. Your spy "The Rider" said almost the exact same thing the other day as did Joblo.com, but it's your opinion that people hold onto. Having seen the film, I agree with these positive reviews and am glad that you took the time to write about it. Where's your THE LAST WINTER review that you promised? There's another good film these people should know about.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:11 p.m. CST

    srh1son

    by Ohiofile

    Garret Dillahunt played both Jack McCall AND Francis Wilcott on Deadwood. Amazing in both roles.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Now that is a fucking good review

    by IndustryKiller!

    It gave me chills reading it. I think I might take in a double feature of this and Into the Wild at the Landmark at some point this week. Thanks Mori.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Dillahunt

    by DeadPanWalking

    Ha, that's awesome, everytime I tell someone that those two characters on Deadwood were played by the same guy it blows his or her mind. He's seriously going to blow up. Pay attention, Hollywood suits.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 12:57 p.m. CST

    IndustryK, that'll be a hell of a double feature.

    by SkeletonParty

    I don't know if I'm brave enough. Two epic emotional adventures back to back. Let us know how it goes.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Great review Moriarty

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Been looking forward to this one for the better part of two years. Can't wait.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 1:42 p.m. CST

    Saw the film. EXCELLENT review Moriarty.

    by nopix

    I went in wanting to love it and maybe expect it to be slow, but I was NEVER bored. I felt the length, but everything (acting, cinematography, set design, sound) all fall into place perfectly. It's mesmerizing. But the SOUND people...it's integral you see this at a good theater. A certain gunshot in this film scared the shit out of me. Pitt and Affleck are amazing with the subtle facial ticks they can reproduce. Career best performances for both of them. I can't wait to see it again.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Great review.

    by TattooedBillionaire

    I'm probably looking forward more to this film than any other this year. I LOVE Westerns.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 2:18 p.m. CST

    Actually, Dillahunt played THREE roles in DEADWOOD.

    by MaxTheSilent

    He also played the unfortunate 'Crop-ear', who mouthed off once to often to Dan Dority and got his throat cut. The producers of that show certainly got their money's worth out of him.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Man...

    by Tourist

    ...That review got me excited to start with. I'd heard nothing terribly positive about the film before. But the source material, the director and especially that supporting cast had me wowed. Even Brad Pitt didn't worry me, since it seemed somewhat tailor made for him. However, Mori lost me with his Good Or Holy Shit Fucking Great assessment of Pitt, which makes me wonder about this film overall. I'd put Pitt on Inoffensive to Okay ranking wise. Was he amazing in Fight Club? Fuck no. He just didn't ruin it, is all. Still, what does it matter, I'm gonna roll into a cinema to see this regardless.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Awesome Review

    by SpawnofAchilles

    This is my most anticipated movie since the fountain, the trailer blew me away. And I whole heartedly agree with your take on Pitt's ability to display subtle insanity, fuck the haters he's a great actor

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 3:57 p.m. CST

    Francis Wolcott

    by Al Swearengen

    You mean that high society-type of Hearst's from back East? Turns out that foppish, cocksucker had a taste for cutting whores' throats. S'posed to get his fuckin' prick stiff. Now, I've been known to cut a few throats in my time. But it weren't for no fuckin' sexual fuckin' jollies. When it comes to that, I prefer my whores to suck my prick.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 4:34 p.m. CST

    best review i've read

    by The Real MiraJeff

    Mori, why do I have to write for a site that has you reviewing too? Frankly, I'm embarrassed. That was a hell of a review. I was trying to think of the word leisurely last night to describe the pacing but I couldn't. "It must be horrible when your fiction eclipses your reality... and "When Robert Ford stopped him, he had to be imagining himself in the role of the hero to some degree" perfectly capture what this film is all about. And I never thought about the title being like one of the 10 cent paperbacks Bob reads. I also completely forgot about the great Sam Rockwell. His performance is unlikely anythig I've ever seen him do and it convinced me he's the perfect guy to play Victor Mancini in Choke. Thanks for making me rethink my take on it. I feel like I need a second viewing to fully appreciate what Dominik's done. Maybe I didn't give him enough credit...

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 4:48 p.m. CST

    FUCK ME!

    by FILMFUNK

    If it's 'On a par with the Godfather, Better than Chopper! and has Brad Pitt in Holy-Shit-Great mode I'm already there more than I was when I thought it looked better than Terrence Mallick good!<P> very nice review too! wordy and flowing and somewhat poetic without being preachy or up ones own bum which is a feat and skill of reviewing in short order in these them part.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 6:08 p.m. CST

    LENGTH

    by THE KNIGHT

    Never bothers me when you have a great story, interesting characters and lovely atmosphere to look at. As long as the movie has those things, I'll sit there for hours! Count me in Jesse James!

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 9:30 p.m. CST

    TomBodet

    by Renholder

    The film moves along at a woefully slow pace. I repeat, this is not a good movie. What's wrong with you people!?

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:18 p.m. CST

    renholder

    by nimagirl

    is wrong on all fronts. This movie is incredible. Eastern Promises is great, but it's pulp. TAOJJBTCRF is masterful on every level. A truly wonderful film. If you want slow and lame, go see In the Valley Of Elah.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:28 p.m. CST

    Look

    by Renholder

    I've never been one to not get "it." If it's good it's good. But for the life of me I can't figure out what you people like about this film. It could have been incredible, but it wasn't. It should have been about an hour and 45 minutes, and it shouldn't of had any of those weird flashback narration moments with the blurring on the sides.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 10:50 p.m. CST

    jesse james

    by nimagirl

    don't worry man, I won't give you any more grief about it. there are some movies that this crowd would crucify me for hating.

  • Sept. 21, 2007, 11:24 p.m. CST

    That could possibly be

    by Turd Furgeson

    The best review I have ever read. That was so perfectly written in every way. I would say the same thing if you said you hated it too.. Nice work Mori, really. You summed up Brad Pitt in a shot glass.. I am going to look for this as soon as it gets here!

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 6:19 a.m. CST

    very good movie

    by applescruff

    I think I disagree with Mori on this movie being accessible to anyone. It's a nearly three-hour period piece (I find it hard to call it a Western as it's so far removed from what a Western is accepted to be) that's intensely personal and very much dialogue driven. I'm sure that many people will be turned off by the narration (I thought of Kubrick and last year's "Little Children") and the visual gimmicks, but I'll be damned if I wasn't completely sold on the whole enterprise. Some truly Fantastic acting is in this one and it's one of the few three hour pictures I want to see a second time.

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 6:47 a.m. CST

    Couldn't they have jusy called it

    by Internet Thug

    Jesse James VS Robert Ford? Man I really don't want to gear that long ass title 500yimes on oscar night

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Ford

    by Cobbio

    Thanks for the review, Mori. Your take on it was different from everything else I've read.<p> I'm excited to see this now.

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Serously though...

    by Tourist

    ...Since thinking about it, despite Brad Pitts barely there abillity as an actor, and the grumblings some have about its pace, I'd not be able to pass up this cast. Jeremy Renner and Paul Schnieder, two guys who haven't broken through yet, Casey Affleck, who I thought nothing of until seeing lonesome jim, and of course Sam Rockwell, who still hasn't got the best roles he deserves yet. Short of Shoehorning Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon Levitt in, you've got the best cast line up I've seen in years. Well, except for that blank slate Pitt in the lead.

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Mori, your review is better than the movie...

    by Boxcutter

    Crisply written and very smart, as usual. Have to differ on this one, though. It struck me as a painfully laboured attempt to recapture the glory of the elegaic Western be it of the late 60s, 70s or 80s - Peckinpah, Hill, Altman, George Roy Hill, etc - right down to the self-consciousness of the title. Magnificently mounted and well performed (Pitt has somehow moved to iconic status without actually doing much "acting", and so it's natural and right that today's star should play that era's), but I didn't feel it. Wanted to. But it left me empty and itchy (cue gags). What a strange day: for once, I disagree with you and find myself nodding to Armond White in NY Press. I'll see it again though - you are bang-on, some of the set-pieces are thrilling. But those do not a whole movie make.

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 9:52 p.m. CST

    Easily the best movie of the year

    by TequilaMocking

    No contest. That is, until No Country For Old Men.

  • Sept. 22, 2007, 11:06 p.m. CST

    Liked what I saw

    by Ditch Brodie

    That is, until the fire alarm kept going off at Arclight and they had to evacuate the place. The cinematography and the music were gorgeous. Oh well, I'll get a free ticket and see this tomorrow.

  • Sept. 23, 2007, 9:58 p.m. CST

    Liked the rest of it, too

    by Ditch Brodie

    This is not one of the more active Talkbacks, it would seem.

  • Sept. 24, 2007, 2:14 p.m. CST

    Americans

    by Johnny California

    Saw the movie at the Arclight in Hollywood last night. Excellent film that captured a couple things I haven't really seen much of in "westerns." Really, it's a MIDwestern set mostly in the stretch between Kentucky and Missouri. One thing that is very clear is how nervous and alert everyone is - especially around Jesse. Considering most of these people are living as outlaws and surrounded by armed killers, you'd expect the general anxiety to be through the roof - especially around one of the few true gunslinging killers still left at that time: Jesse James. Also, this movie dares to present Americans as the generally poorly educated, dreamy and self-important strivers that we've been since the founding of the country. Overblown legend and overinflated promises of "Go West, Young Man" greatness have always been much more important driving the "American Dream" than historical truth and moderate reality. In the novel, it's made clear that Jesse considers himself an authority on nearly every subject but is in fact mostly incorrect. Even so, he is shown as something of a mystic invoking out-of-body experiences and extrasensory perception. The Fords are also portrayed as nincompoops who are dumb enough to embark on a career as outlaws when even Frank and Jesse have called it quits. It becomes clear that Jesse believes his former compatriots are more dangerous to him now than Pinkertons and government agents, and almost anyone who considers himself Jesse's friend can now look forward to a bullet from James' gun. In the end, Ford comes to see the difference between the truth and the legend but even then he fails to create his own legend and even before his own ignominious death finds his life easily folded into the legend of the man he admired and killed.

  • Sept. 25, 2007, 9:11 a.m. CST

    an essentially american film....

    by jezza

    ...written and directed by a NZ-born Australian.

  • Sept. 25, 2007, 10 a.m. CST

    Ameristralian

    by Johnny California

    Yeah, and it feels a lot like a resonant outsider look at a legendary American era. I think there are a lot of comparisons to be made between American and Australian outlaws, though. They didn't have an all-out Civil War to drive violent men westward, but the harsh, vast wilderness combined with clannish and often criminal Irish, Scottish and British immigrants led to a society filled with people similar to the American Westward expansion.

  • Sept. 26, 2007, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Johnny California...

    by jezza

    ...an erudite comparison sir (Does that kind of thing really belong on an AICN talkback board?). I haven't seen 'The Assassination' yet, but Dominik's previous film 'Chopper' is also concerned with outlaws and the myths that gather around them.