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The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Review Critics


Dave White Profile

He has his 'I'm Brad Pitt' cake and eats it … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Though there is plenty of gunplay, this is a wondrously contemplative and poetic saga that offers a fresh and bewitching take on a timeworn genre.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The nervy style of this newfangled Western, with its eerie, insinuating score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, is so effective that long after Pitt and Affleck have left the screen, emotional disturbance lingers like gun smoke.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    This fascinating relationship gets smothered in pointlessly long takes, repetitive scenes, grim Western landscapes and mumbled, heavily accented dialogue.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The language of its narrative, like that of its characters, may be elevated -- a literary Western version of Damon Runyon -- but the words are intriguing, challenging and, occasionally, very funny.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Here is another Western in the classical tradition.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    It is a film, often breathtaking without settling for being pretty, filled with nervous silence.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Pitt stars in beautiful -- but brutal -- Western.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that teens may be drawn to this violent, mature Western by star Brad Pitt. Leading up to the titular event, viewers see bleeding wounds and seeping heads, arguments that end in shootouts, fistfights and hostile wrestling, and an intense train robbery. You can also expect some language ("s--t," "pecker," "bitch," etc.), sexual insinuations, cigarette smoking, and hard liquor drinking (the latter are both accurate for the movie's 1880s "Wild West" setting).

  • Families can talk about the enduring appeal of "bad boys." Why do society and the media tend to glorify outlaws like Jesse James? How do you think the way people like James are presented in movies and TV shows differs from how they were in real life? How does the film interpret (and complicate) the definition of what a "hero" is?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: All of the male protagonists are robbers and killers; women serve only as supportive spouses. Jesse is increasingly paranoid, and Bob is selfish and craven.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: The film's frequent violence is awkward rather than exciting, with a focus on its bloody effects. Shootouts are ragged, with many misses and falls, as well as bloody injuries (a couple of overhead shots show bodies with blood pooling from their heads); bullets hit heads, limbs, and chests. Beatings and a shootout during a train robbery. Trying to get information from a boy, Jesse hits him hard and repeatedly. A shootout at the Ford home sends Charlie jumping out the window; Bob shoots Wood in the head. The assassination of Jesse James is long anticipated; after the shooting, his head is shown slamming into the wall, with his body falling to the floor.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Men's discussion of "being inside a woman" (with slang references to female genitalia, like "coot") includes reference to a "squaw." Heavy verbal flirting between a man and a married woman. Jesse appears in the tub from the back (no explicit imagery). Sexy feather-fan dance at end of film (no explicit shots, but insinuation as woman teases her male audience).

  • language false3

    Language: Some language sprinkled throughout the film, including "s--t," "pecker," "bastard," "bitch." Reference to a "'"N" word' woman."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Much drinking and cigarette or cigar smoking by men in saloons. Bob appears stumbling drunk in a saloon.