Best of… Series – 2007 – The Assassination of Jesse James

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)

This was easily my most anticipated film of 2007. I remember reading about it, seeing the trailers, watching clips, and thinking it might be the best movie Terrence Malick never made. After seeing it the first time, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. I thought the film was fantastic, but it didn’t live up to the Terrence Malick standards I had unfairly placed on it. It wasn’t until I watched it a couple more time that I began to appreciate it as its own film.

jesse3

First, the Malick comparisons are entirely skin deep. Yes, the film is shot beautifully (in my top 10 most visually impressive films actually), but outside of that, this movie is its own thing. The film deals with the themes of idolization, respect, disappointment, and (as the title suggests) cowardice. And all of those themes come to life thanks to the wonderful performance from Casey Affleck. To me, this was one of the best performances of the decade. Affleck uses his entire repertoire of face, body, and voice to create an unforgettable Robert Ford. The rest of the cast really helps back him up as well. Brad Pitt is great. Sam Rockwell, Paul Schneider, Sam Shepard, and Garret Dillahunt are all fantastic, playing smaller roles here.

jesse

I should probably also mention the film’s soundtrack, composed and performed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. It very well might be my favorite movie soundtrack ever. It helps define the tone as incredibly poetic, and (combined with the lingering pace and amazing cinematography) makes this film a strangely ethereal experience.  9.75/10

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2 Responses to “Best of… Series – 2007 – The Assassination of Jesse James”

  1. Agree completely. I had a similar reaction. It was about the 2nd or 3rd time I watched it that I really really began to love every moment. An amazing film that got completely overlooked.

    • chrisfilm Says:

      Since I’m from the area where this is set, it was definitely not overlooked here, which is good. But it was still underappreciated.

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