The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford ★★★★
Adapted from Ron Hansen’s historical novel about the famous outlaw of the Old West, this long, slow western from director Andrew Dominik (Chopper) is an 1880s-set visual ballad to the preening, self-mythologising James (Brad Pitt). Dominik’s screenplay explores his relationship with eager, hero-worshipping groupie Bob Ford, a stars-in-his-eyes Casey Affleck. He and brother Charley (Sam Rockwell) join the gang, whereby James takes a shine to Bob and a complex double-cross involving a bounty tests his loyalty. Shot in Winnipeg and Alberta for Kansas and Missouri, Dominik’s film teases poetry from fields of wheat, clapboard houses and sparks flying off train wheels. Sam Shepard, Jeremy Renner and Mary-Louise Parker swell a fine cast, while Nick Cave (who also appears) and Warren Ellis score the action with minimal instrumentation but maximum meditative impact.
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