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#1 of 10 from Brad Pitt's 10 Best Performances by
Offers a compelling, edge of your seat story while exploring the outlaw psyche and, best of all, works as a rumination on the cost and nature of fame that rings true in modern
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“I haven't managed to find any other titles that embed a flavor of passive aggressiveness so successfully. It could have been called "The Assassination of Jesse James", but adding
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The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward
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Of all the movies made about or glancingly involving the 19th-century outlaw Jesse Woodson James,The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Fordis the most reflective, most ambitious, most intricately fascinating, and indisputably most beautiful. Based on the novel of the same name by Ron Hansen, it picks up James late in his career, a few hours before his final train robbery, then covers the slow catastrophe of the gang's breakup over the next seven months even as the boss himself settles into an approximation of genteel retirement. But in another sense all of the movie is later than that. The very title assumes the audience's familiarity with James as a figure out of history and legend, and our awareness that he was--will be--murdered in his parlor one quiet afternoon by a backshooting crony.

The film--only the second to be made by New Zealand–born writer-director Andrew Dominik--reminds us that Dominik's debut film, Chopper (2000), was the cunningly off-kilter portrait of another real-life criminal psychopath who became a kind of rock star to his society. The Jesse James of this telling is no Robin Hood robbing the rich to give to the poor, and that train robbery we witness is punctuated by acts of gratuitous brutality, not gallantry. Nineteen-year-old Bob Ford (Casey Affleck) seeks to join the James gang out of hero worship stoked by the dime novels he secretes under his bed, but his glam hero (Brad Pitt) is a monster who takes private glee in infecting ...

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Director: Andrew Dominik
Screen Writer: Andrew Dominik, Ron Hansen
DVD Release Date: February 5, 2008
Runtime: 160 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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