Cult Film Corner: The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Some films wallow in their depression. Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream comes to mind. A film so unrelentingly bleak that in envelops you in a cold dark blanket of despair. It’s brilliant, but after watching it once you wouldn’t ever want to sit through it again. Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford is not one of those films.

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford follows the last few months of the legendary outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt) before his death at the hands of Robert Ford (Casey Affleck). Jesse is only thirty-four, but weary and ill, weighed down by the burden of the James gang myth. Ford, an awkward, gawky, and often bitter nineteen year old, is in the thrall of Jesse and the stories of his wild west escapades. Ford does everything to ingratiate himself to Jesse and his gang but becomes increasingly disillusioned when the reality of the man rarely matches that of his childhood hero.

The acting is almost universally excellent. Brad Pitt, often dismissed as a pretty boy or prone to over-acting (see: Twelve Monkeys), puts in arguably his finest performance. Flecked with subtlety, his Jesse is broken and weary, worn down by a celebrity he feels isn’t his or is undeserved. Able to charm with his boyish smile, and driven paranoid by the closing authorities, he’s capable of frightening anger and brutal acts of violence.

Casey Affleck’s Robert Ford is equally as good. The uneasy self-conscious hero-worship in his interactions with Jesse will have you shifting in your seat, while the seething bitterness and his sense of entitlement convince. Sam Rockwell’s Charley Ford, brother of Robert, is superb too, especially as he morphs from dumb-as-dirt gang member into Robert’s guilty embodiment of the dead Jesse James. Paul Schneider’s louche Dick Liddil and Jeremy Renner’s Wood Hite help round off the cast.

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford is an achingly melancholy film. A study on the nature of fame and legend, every scene is imbued with a sadness. It’s to director Andrew Dominik credit that this sorrowful feeling doesn’t overwhelm. The film is beautiful. Every frame could be a picture postcard. Coupled with the Nick Cave and Warren Ellis score, the result is mesmeric. The near three-hour runtime floats by like a dream.

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford absolutely wonderful. I urge you to watch it now.

More Reviews:

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol



Troll Hunter

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Captain America: The First Avenger


The Girl With Dragon Tattoo (2009)



Super 8

The Parallax View

Cowboys And Aliens

Swamp Thing

X-Men First Class

The Human Centipede

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

One Response to “Cult Film Corner: The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford”

  1. […] 2012, ‘Cult Film Corner: The Assassination of Jesses James by The Coward Robert Ford’, Robert Ford played by Casey Affleck, image,, viewed 6 April 2014,… […]

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