Dominik pulls a top performace from Pitt & Affleck
From writer/director Andrew Dominik comes the long titled and lengthy timed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford starring Academy Award nominee Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. The film in so much of its glory has both positive and negative components that make this an uneasy experience at the movies.
Director Dominik has great control of the picture but when the film went into the editing room the film underwent some problems. The film never keeps the momentum to be an amazing picture. The viewer is connected for the first 15 minutes, then bored for 10, then enchanted for 45, bored for 15, then comes the anticipated climax and you think its over, then it goes on for another half hour. Dominik gives the audience the best understanding of Jesse James possible so we can become better acquainted with him but brings in an slew of different characters that, to be perfectly honest, I don't care that much about. I believe this might be a example of over character development where we get all the aspects of his life but all we want is Jesse.
Last year, many critics were stating Brad Pitt gave his best performance ever in Babel however, his Jesse James is the best performance of his career by a mile. Pitt wears Jesse like an overgrown coat that you don't want to get rid of. Pitt gives the most tortured, endearing, and frightening performance of the year thus far. He makes the audience so uncomfortable and awkward yet gives off sensitivity and compassion for a very unlikable and ferocious man. If buzz builds, expect Pitt to be a huge contender at the Oscars.
Casey Affleck, arguably the better actor of the Affleck clan gives the most pathetic, annoying and cowardly performance in the last ten years; and its brilliant. With his deep "admiration" for Jesse, his Robert Ford is engulfed in Jesse's presence and wants enjoy the moments with him, even if he is in fear of him. The finale is truly his show as he stretches out his acting legs and dissolves into a character you can't wait to see off-screen.
The cast ensemble is a true revelation as each character as over-developed as they might be, all bring a sense of humanity, charisma, and heartbreak to their roles. Sam Rockwell who is on the verge of being a household name and coming his way to a nomination one day plays Charley Ford, brother of Robert, as magnetic as the character demands. Mary Louise Parker, who is one of the better actress' working today, goes nowhere as Jesse's wife. This is a role that is very Academy friendly, and throws it away in a her limited screen time Sam Shepard who plays the older brother of Jesse, shows fear and anguish built up in a man who yearns for emotional freedom from crime. Paul Schneider, Jeremy Renner and Garret Dillahunt all turn in exceptional performances and enhance a cast of big name stars. Expect a possible Screen Actors Cast Ensemble nod for these men.
Expect a possible and much deserved cinematography nomination for the overdue Roger Deakins, which is the strongest technical aspect of the picture. Also a great score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is a possibility along with great costumes by Patricia Norris and perfect art direction by Janice Blackey-Goodine. The appeal is there for the film as a whole but it leaves us floating a little too often in a long river of bravery, artistry and commendation. Dominik will likely be cited for some breakthrough director awards with the picture popping up during precursors' season.