Friday, February 22, 2008

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell

Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex


Jesse James


Some points about this film which captured my eye:
  • The film is as long as its title. All 160 minutes of it.
  • The buildup towards the main event (the assassination) was a bit slow. There were a few wasted footage of sequences.
  • Stunning cinematography. Detail oriented shots of snow laden barren lands in the wide frontier. It made me shiver all the more as the theater itself was freezing. Yes unfortunately I once again forgot to bring some sweater or shawl to protect me. Some special technique of camera angles where the peripheral images are blurry but the central frame is crystal clear was used for some scenes. It was pleasing to the eye. There was a bleak bluish tone to the story line.
  • Very strong character development of the lead characters - a vivid study of distinctly contrasting characters. Good performances by Brad Pitt as Jesse James. His portrayal of the outlaw was believable. His personal anguish, his menacing presence, his violent streak bursting forth one instance. In the next shot he is calm and collected in his subtle ways and sometimes he was even funny - very humane portrayal.
  • I was also impressed by Sam Rockwell as Charlie Ford, the older brother of Tom Ford. His friendship with Jesse James was strong yet he also lived in fear and in awe of the larger than life public enemy. His petrified face near the end of the film was powerfully projected on screen.
  • But kudos goes to Casey Affleck as the cunning, wily Robert Ford. Never mind that his voice is high pitch and comes across as someone who laments and whines constantly. Well alright, he did whine a lot. A steely gaze with squinting eyes as he cunningly mapped out his betrayal sent shivers down my spine. But the film gave us a better understanding of Robert Ford. A troubled and tortured soul whose obsession with Jesse James was quite creepy in nature.
  • An authentic wardrobe from the era added to the Western genre.
  • The film was ably guided by a poetic narration of the events by someone who was never identified clearly in the film. But it felt like you were watching an audio tape of the book unfolding before your eyes with stunning visual effects.
  • The last 10 minutes or so of the film felt like a rushed afterthought. It could have been more neatly edited to fit the film. A bit disjointed but nonetheless essential to the plot.
  • I did like the film in the sense that it presented a realistic portrayal of a larger than life public figure immortalized in countless movies and songs. It also gave us a glimpse in the personality of the man who fell into infamy as the coward killer of the famed outlaw.

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