Published Sep 20, 2007So, its official: Casey Affleck has finally upstaged his brother. As Robert Ford, the conflicted man who kills legendary American bandit Jesse James, Casey has established himself as the better Affleck. And its nearly impossible to ignore some eerie parallels with Caseys uprising and his characters.
Robert Ford was first and foremost, a follower, an admirer and man who sought recognition and respect through mimicking celebrity. In his youth, Ford was an idealistic, righteous lad who spent his adolescent years obsessing about one day riding alongside his idol, Jesse James. Its funny how life can imitate film, or perhaps its vice versa in this case. Well assume Ford, like Casey, could never have imagined this feat, being the smaller, scrawnier counterpart to a rising star. But unlike Casey, Ford mucks it all up in the end, as the title reveals so blatantly.
This, by the way, makes it a bit difficult to stay on board with director Andrew Dominiks western melodrama for its three-hour entirety. We already know whats going to happen and the painfully long takes and repetitive scenes dont help its cause. But again, this is about Caseys brilliance and his graduation from shadow to limelight, not the flawed directing.
Most of the tale is a detailed chronicle of how Ford became a member of Jesses prestigious posse, which ultimately lead to his takedown of the iconic outlaw who escaped every lawman across a dozen states for an abnormally long time. Primarily, Jesse James is about living with the greatest regret, how Ford goes from nobility to most hated with the pull of a trigger. Its also about that one life-changing performance that sets an actor apart from everyone else in his class, including his own flesh and blood.
Perhaps Casey is so good because hes mirroring his realest, most deeply hidden feelings about his once superior brother. Or maybe there is no competition at all and weve all been fooled.
Either way, its Caseys cold stare, irreverent wit, perfect poise and multi-dimensional emotions that will convince you hes tormented by something. By the way, Brad Pitt is also in this movie. He was pretty whatever. (Warner)