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The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford 

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The frequently mythologized life and death of Jesse James gets another workover in this lengthy account of the 19th-century outlaw's last few months. This isn't a shoot-'em-up; what little action there is comes in widely spaced spurts. Instead, director Andrew Dominik tips his hat to the 1970s not-really-Westerns of Robert Altman and Terence Malick; this is a reflective and melancholy drama, marked by a languid pace and lingering camerawork. Jesse James is a study of relationship between two men -- an increasingly paranoid James, and his acolyte and eventual assassin, Robert Ford. Dominik also riffs on the naïve pursuit of fame and how quickly the spotlight can turn toxic, giving the film an easy contemporary hook only heightened by the presence of its star, the tabloid staple Brad Pitt. A grizzled Pitt broods and seethes nicely as James, while the baby-faced Casey Affleck, with his wide-eyed, faltering delivery, is wonderfully cast as the conflicted young Ford. 

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