Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

 I started to watch this after Monster two nights ago but started to nod off after half an hour. Well it was 3.00 am! So I sat up until the small hours of this morning and finished watching it.
 The film is based on the book by Ron Hansen, which I read last November. It isn't a book I can say I enjoyed, but I didn't dislike it either. The only way I can describe it is as strange, odd even. I struggled to finish it as it was difficult reading. I found there was no flow to it and Hansen's writing style made it hard to enjoy.
 The film mirrors the book in this way. It is a movie people either love or straight out hate judging from some reviews I have read. It does help if you have read the book. Strange and odd is how I described it and the film is the same, odd, odd, odd. And like the book I'm unsure how I feel about it. 
 One thing I have found is it is a very easy film to criticise. Here are some film critics examples, 'too long and too slow', 'a chore to sit through', 'a long, empty excersise in style'. I fully agree with each of those assessments. The first notable criticism is the length. It IS just too long. The problem is the film moves at a very slow, ponderous pace, and I did find it becoming more and more of a 'chore' to watch. ( The White Ribbon as a film suffered from this too). It should easily have lost forty minutes without losing anything from the plot.
 Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck put in superb performances, but Affleck becomes annoying and difficult to watch. Again the length is the problem.Too much of Affleck became just that, too much. He has got inside the character but the books oddness comes through in the film and it, with Afflek, overwhelm the viewer and ultimately numb their senses . Affleck's character annoyed me so much I wanted the film to end, but it just seemed to go on and on like a bad migraine.
 The cinematography though is beautiful, and quite simply stunning. It is some of the best I have ever seen in a film. It is a travesty that I had to watch it on the small screen where the majesty of it was so diminshed. This is the highlight of the film. Every scene whether outdoors or not is perfectly realised. Long after the details are forgotten to me the cinematography is what will stay with me most about this film. 
 One critic I have read called the film,' one of the most wrongfully neglected masterpieces of its era'. While I have criticised the film I tend to agree with this statement. It is a masterpiece. It is beautifully filmed, and acted in everyway. It is the clique of cinema as art, and it is art. 
 It is just unfortunate for everything that is good about this film it will  devide your opinions.  The book suffers the same fate. It is an unusual book and the film has followed that. There is so much I liked about this film. The cinematography I will praise profusely, as it is good as it gets. The acting is superb BUT, and here comes the crux of this film, it is far too long. 
 For me this film mirrors the book in being strange, and odd. It is a film I am having difficulty in deciding how I feel about. Do I like it or not? There are things I do like about it, but possibly after 160 minutes Casey Affleck's character got too much for me and I was relieved that it was all over. And I suppose that is my feeling. While stylish, beautifully filmed, and with some superb acting, it is a film that by the end you will give a sigh of relief that it has FINALLY ended.
 A difficult and strange film, and hard to recommend or not. A film that leaves you feeling ambiguous. Satisfying and yet........
Click here for a synopsis and more detailed facts:
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  1. Great review. Personally I really enjoyed this film. I had read reviews about the length of it and the pace, so was prepared to just sit back and absorb. As a result I found it very satisfying, but I can certainly see where it would lose some viewers. Still the acting, the tone, and the story are compelling and i consider it a recent classic. Great blog here by the way, I've put up a link for it on my own blog.

  2. Thanks for the kind comment there! Nice to be finally getting a bit of traffic through and people reading my views. I shall reciprocate and add a link from mine to yours. That is only fair!
    I don't need to add anything here to what I have already said. But it is always fascinating to read other's opinions whether they mirror your own or not.