Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Venice: The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
This is, along with Zodiac, the greatest American film of the year. I’m not the only one who thinks so (Variety’s review was a lovefest), but, judging by the mixed reaction in Venice, I also know that I’m perhaps in the minority. Certainly it’s not going to be everyone’s taste. People are talking about it as Mallick-esque like that’s a bad thing. Not in my mind. For me, it's a masterpiece, plain and simple. At over two and a half hours, it’s long, slow, lyrical, elegiac, poetic, meandering; even its director, Andrew Dominik, says it has a story but no real plot. But the cinematography by Roger Deakins is exquisite, the direction is confident and assured, and there’s a truly mesmerising performance from Casey Affleck as Robert Ford that deserves an Oscar. The use of narration, too, is some of the best you’ll ever hear in a movie. It’s not all perfect. I found musician Nick Cave’s cameo so distracting it took me, momentarily, out of the movie. But that small detail aside, it's a wonderful, wonderful film. Brave, moving, expansive, magnificent, artful, challenging, epic. Dominik should be congratulated for making it. Pitt should be applauded for not only his fine performance but for being his director’s 800-pound gorilla, and for making sure this got made the way Dominik (who was born in New Zealand, but grew up in Australia) wanted it. Ten word title and all.