At times when we see some films on the big screen we are mesmerized by their beauty. But others add in performances to complement this beauty. This is one of those films that is stuck in the middle of it. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford begins with some shots of the clouds moving at a brisk pace taking in with most of the shallow inequities of this dreamy town where Jesse James (Brad Pitt) resides. The whole starting sequence is more like a dream of the character who was an impending nightmare about to happen.
The first phase of the movie deals with the last crime Jesse commits with his gang and the consequences of what happens in this incident. His brother who begins to distance himself from him makes a big dent in Jesse James’ mind. This leaves him distraught and almost helpless. He begins to suspect that all of his gang is out to get him. At this time he meets one of the Ford brothers Robert (Casey Affleck) who they call Bob. Robert is an avid fan of Jesse James. His fascination is almost childlike. But this inspiration gets corrupted when he begins to see the man up close. This distinction makes him feel that Jesse is human after all.
The next phase is that of Robert turning against him and plotting his plan on how to execute the title of the movie. There is a lot of thought which goes into this. The whole thought process is shown through images which are at times from another place. Sam Shepard who plays the brother of Brad Pitt is offered a homage to his role in the famous Terrence Malick movie Days of Heaven.
The film has an uncanny resemblance to the style of a Terrence Malick film. But it’s the voiceovers that give this movie a different touch. They almost feel like out of another movie by the great Todd Field called Little Children. Mixing these two genres it gives the film a sense of its own. The actors use this chance to merge to their advantage.
One of the most striking portrayals in this movie is that of Brad Pitt. There are scenes with just the slight tilt of his face he can create a gamut of emotions. This movie sees him border around the thinking actor. There might be very little time for him to become a full-on character actor. His strength is in giving the role something very risky and still making it a part of the character. Casey Affleck is a natural and very methodical and doesn’t want to take big risks. Sam Rockwell gets his accent and behavior very much in sync with the character he is playing. He feels like he could have lived during this time.
The soundtrack in this movie plays on you by the end of the movie. There is not much variation done to it but it creates the right mood for this gritty tale. Director Andrew Dominik ensured that the action is also very devastating giving the shoes of the characters a coat of blood. This movie is not at all slow as it just bursts at you in moments leaving you very little time to look away from the screen. This movie is an entertaining version of a Terrence Malick movie. This my friends is a great feat for cinema itself.