The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

  • Directors: Andrew Dominik
  • Producers: Ridley Scott, Jules Daly, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, David Valdes
  • Writers: Screenplay, Andrew Dominik, Novel, Ron Hansen
  • Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama, History, Western
  • Actors: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Mary Louise Parker, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell

The film starts off with the narrator introducing many facts and legends about the American Old West outlaw, Jesse James (Brad Pitt). Aside from Jesse, the film also tells the story of Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), a seemingly insecure young man who has grown up idolizing Jesse James and is often seen as a coward by those around him. Bob seeks out his hero in the middle of a forest in Blue Cut, Missouri where the James gang is staging a train robbery. Bob makes petty attempts to join the gang with the help of his brother Charley Ford (Sam Rockwell), who has been a recruit for a while now. Jesse allows Bob to take part in the train robbery to try to prove himself, but Jesse’s brother Frank James (Sam Shepard) disagrees, saying that Bob hasn’t the ingredients to become a member in their gang. The robbery is a success, but ends up being the last robbery committed by the James brothers. Afterward, Frank decides to retire from crime and settle east in Baltimore, leaving his brother to lead the gang by himself. Jesse does not mind Bob’s presence at first, and begins to have Bob tag along wherever he goes. Gradually, Bob forms a complex love/hate relationship with Jesse, still admiring him to the point of obsession, but also becoming resentful and somewhat fearful due to Jesse’s bullying nature. Jesse begins to acknowledge Bob’s awkwardness and unusual fanaticism, and sends him away as a result.

Ten years have passed since Jesse’s assassination. Bob, as unlikely as it may seem, has prospered over the past decade, and now acquires a steady income working as a saloonkeeper in the small mining town of Creede, Colorado, still uncertain on what fate awaits him. He becomes romantically involved with a beautiful woman named Dorothy Evans (Zooey Deschanel), who would have long conversations with Bob in hopes of providing comfort to him. In the closing moments of the film, Bob is sought out and murdered by a man named Edward O’Kelley, who has developed a strong hatred towards Bob over the years. At the same time, the narrator gives an epilogue to end the film, recounting that O’Kelley would later be pardoned, and that in contrast to Jesse James, Robert Ford would achieve no fame after his death.

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