Brad Pitt shines as usual in the western, and Ben Affleck's brother proves he's ready for movie stardom
The Assassination of Jesse James

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Cast: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker, Zooey Deschanel and Sam Rockwell
Screenplay: Andrew Dominik
Director: Andrew Dominik
Rated: R, for violence and sexual references

Grade: A-

Visit ShowBizCafe

Brad Pitt is probably the biggest Hollywood star ofthe moment, and his latest cinematic attempt TheAssassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is atestimony to his A-list status.

Set in the old West, this slow-moving, two hour and 33-minuteflick tells the story of the most notorious outlaw of all time, thecowboy Jesse James (Pitt), and his murder by Robert Ford (CaseyAffleck). The charismatic and quick-tempered James is the leader of agang whose own members fear his character and quick draw, while Fordis an easygoing kid who waivers between idolizing James and takingover his leadership role.

Assassination is more than your typical cowboymovie, in that it puts on a profound display of the characters' innerworkings. Its emotive perspective takes us on a ride through Ford'spsyche as he ponders his reasons for shooting James.

The mere nature of Ford's character puts the spotlight on theacting abilities of Affleck, who we see in his most successful careerwork yet. The actor shows tons of improvement since his last movie,Ocean's Thirteen, also with Pitt. His interpretation of ayoung man insecure in his own skin will be applauded by movie-loverswho take the time to enjoy the show.

Pitt not only stars in the movie, but he's also the producer. Hisportrayal of James is natural, calculated and intense. It'd besurprising if Pitt and Affleck's combined efforts didn't earn themovie Oscar recognition this year.

The film boasts an interesting psychological conflict,complemented by beautiful visuals, precise details from the era, astar-studded cast and impressive cinematography. It suffers, though,from its length and lack of commercial appeal, which could both hurtits box office success.

But come to think it, the movie shouldn't have too muchtrouble packing in the crowds. Let's not underestimate the cinematicseduction of Brad Pitt.