When a films running time is 2 hours and 40 minutes, its often because the writer is also directing so theres no one to tell him to cut out 40 minutes, or else!
Back in the 1870s, Jesse James (Brad Pitt) was the countrys most notorious outlaw. Celebrated in dime novels, his exploits were legendary. As years pass, most of the original gang members die and Jesses brother (Sam Shepard) retires. Hanging on the coattails of his older brother Charley (Sam Rockwell) and longing for acceptance is fawning, hero-worshipping 19 year-old Robert Ford (slyly played by Casey Affleck, Bens real-life younger brother). History records Ford as the coward who shot 34 year-old Jesse in the back, but the plot delves into the psyches of both gunslingers and what may or may not – have precipitated that infamous murder.
Jesse James is said to have been charismatic and complex, but youd never know it from Brad Pitts stolid, stoic performance, most remarkable for its pensive stillness a trait which served Gary Cooper well in many Westerns.
Based on Ron Hansens novel, its self-indulgently adapted and languidly, pretentiously directed by Andrew Dominik, whose previous experience includes TV commercials, music videos and Chopper about the notorious Australian criminal Chopper Read. Perhaps its also not the best judgment to have the star (Brad Pitt) also serve as producer.
Since its so tedious to watch, the cameo by Washington pundit James Carville as the Governor of Missouri is a welcome diversion. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a turgid 4, making one wonder why it takes such a long, long time to kill Jesse James.