The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
With much of the gang captured and brother Frank heading into retirement, the outlaw Jesse James leads a rag-tag bunch of thieves through Missouri. Robert Ford has big hopes for his position in the gang, but the lack of respect he is paid leads him to turn on the leader in a search for his own fame.
The traditional aspects of the Western take a back seat in this movie, which instead deals with the end of the gunslinging era and the beginning of the media age. Celebrity and fame come into consideration, as Robert Ford clamours for a taste of Jesse James' celebrity - before his own fame leads to his downfall. That's not to say there aren't any shoot-outs however, or an atmospheric train-robbery which makes the most of Roger Deakins' photography.
Casey Affleck and Sam Rockwell put in excellent performances as the two Ford brothers and Brad Pitt is chilling as the quiet, bullying, megalomaniac gang leader who steps into his brother's shoes and spreads utter paranoia through the entire gang. This paranoia makes for the films strength - building massive tension in the lead up to the final act.
Chopper Director Andrew Dominick took some five years getting this film together and it is clearly a project that a lot attention has been paid to. While the mood and tone is suitably slow however, something is missing from this film which holds it back from hitting either the elegiac magnificence of Terrence Malick or the high-tension drama of Sergio Leone that it so clearly aspires too.