Last evening, I rented the DVD of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." Nursing a large goblet of Pinot Noir, I sat down to watch it with great expectations. The movie, after all, had been nominated for an Oscar; and Casey Affleck's acting was said to be a revelation. A numbing two hours and forty minutes later, my brain was in a fog (it wasn't the wine); and one question kept reverberating in my brain - why?
The credit titles informed me that Brad Pitt not only starred in the movie; he produced it. I surmised that this was one of those projects that actors, with money to spare, occassionally "find"; and feel a compelling need to share it with the rest of the universe. In this case, the question, again, was why? Sure, the subject was interesting enough, but did it need close to three hours to be told? And what was being told anyway? I felt I was watching a home movie of Brad Pitt's great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather; very homey, but of no interest to anyone but the family.
Was the movie meant to be a documentary? Was it meant to stimulate the intellect? How does watching a bunch of cowboys mouthing less than inspiring dialogue; in a barely comprehensible Western twang, exercise the brain cells? I kept waiting for a burst of histrionic brilliance from Casey Affleck, but nothing materialized. How does mumbling and looking mournful become Oscar-worthy? I would be grateful for some enlightenment.
Another question I keep asking myself is, which audience is this movie made for? It is definitely not a chick flick; and it does not really qualify as a guy film either. "Assassination" is as far away from "Die Hard" as you can get. And even in its genre, it would suffer from comparison with "High Noon". I suppose, if you are Brad Pitt, you can afford to take a gamble with a hundred million dollars, but I would advise him, in all sincerity - and I'm sure millions of female fans would agree with me - not to repeat this folly. You are no Robert Redford; and, besides, Butch Cassidy was fun.