The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Director: Andrew Dominik): This is a very mediocre film. It’s a great example of how TIFF looks for anything with a big star to sell tickets, draw crowds, create meaningless buzz and satisfy autograph hounds. My curiosity got the better of me and I was there looking at Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on the red carpet.
Tony Scott and Ridley Scott were executive producers and couldn’t save this film from being too long and at times, quite boring. Director Andrew Dominik could easily have cut 20-30 minutes but maybe the producer, Brad Pitt, wouldn’t let him? Even the music score from Nick Cave sounded repetitive and lacking some spark.
The great Roger Deakins was the cinematographer but I felt completely uninspired by the visual style he brought to this film. He does a nice job of making Alberta look like Missouri but that’s it.
On a positive note, the film is actually perfect for Brad Pitt who plays Jesse James. James was the biggest celebrity of his day, so casting Pitt in the lead role works quite well. Casey Affleck as Robert Ford plays a wonderful weasel — the best performance in the film.
There is a bit of violence in the film that startled a few audience members (people saying, “oh my” and “dear God” out loud). The crack of a pistol in one scene caused the woman in front of me to recoil in horror. I’ve never seen anyone snap their head back so fast. I really thought she was going to end up in the seat behind me. This gave me the best chuckle of the evening.
I don’t know. I think the direction and the screenplay by Andrew Dominik was the missing link to a great western. I had high hopes for this film and left disappointed.