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Movie Review: The Assassination of Jesse James...

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With a title almost as long as its 160-minute running time, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is one of those movies that just seems destined to fail at the box office which is too bad really because if you make the time to see this movie you will be treated to a somber, revisionist Western that is both tender and violent in its portrayal of an era that is dying as surely as one of its iconic anti-heroes, Jesse James (Brad Pitt), and one of its more pathetic villains, Robert Ford (a career-best performance from Casey Affleck).

The film opens with young Bob Ford awkwardly approaching Jesse's older brother Frank (Sam Shepard) and trying to secure a place in the James Gang. Frank pegs Ford straightaway as a squirrelly little shit who's not to be trusted, but with the help of his brother Charlie, Bob manages to insinuate himself into the James Gang. Affleck--whom I've never found to be a particularly compelling actor--is subtly remarkable in these opening scenes. Something as simple as the moments he chooses to look away indelibly establish his character.