Andrew Dominik took a good long time (five years) to release his feature-length follow-up to his magisterial The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. That he is re-teaming with his boy Brad Pitt for this film too, and maintaining the quiet despair and slow-going existentialism of his previous work, begs a mighty something indeed, a something the film can’t quite comfortably coalesce into a wholly successful finished product when all is said and done. Certainly, Dominik’s work is solid here, composed and well-formed and structured with intellect and care, but things only truly alight in a few select sequences where he decides he doesn’t need to be burdened with the weight of narrative filmmaking. It’s a good film, but a disappointingly slight one for a director of Dominik’s skill and gasping ambition. With his last film, he only re-wrote the book – or at least brought back out the re-written book after decades of being lost to dust in the attic – on impressionist, opulent Westerns and American identity… no big deal. Here, he tells a fine crime story, but one is left wanting a little by the transition. Continue reading
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a difficult film to review. Usually this means one of two things: the film was mediocre and I find myself struggling to say something substantive about it, or I’m fascinated by it but I have not yet figured out how to unlock its mysteries. Usually the latter means I will love the film for its confounding, maddening tension and hate it for the same reason, at least until I see it again. Neither of those is the case for Andrew Dominik’s second film. I know exactly what I think of this film, and it is far from mediocre. The issue with this review is quite simple: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was all-but made for me. And gushing over something does not a review make, so I must try to formulate my jumping up and down into something coherent. Here we go.