Parents' Guide to

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

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

Movie R 2007 152 minutes
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 12+

Beautiful, Amazing

This movie is absolutely phenomenal while it doesn't top other movies like my all time favorite Whiplash or Inglourious Basterds, but it's definitely up there. I watched this with my 12 year old son and when I asked him for help with this review he said this: "I mean I think it's fine for my age, you could probably say something like most pre-teens can handle this and all ages 13 and up" I wholeheartedly agreed with what my son said because honestly CSM is completely wrong. All the sex references are extremely minor and something you may even find in a Marvel movie. As for the violence it is definitely there and yes, strong, however it does not glorify as for the majority of it. Whenever I'm looking to see if a movie is appropriate for my son or even my daughter (14) I constantly see the same article. The article says how movie violence will desensitize kids to violence in real life, to put that in simpler words when you see a kid with a broken leg you don't react as greatly as you should because they didn't have their head blown off like in that one movie you just watched; however, I would argue that this film doesn't do that to any extent. While yes it is on the violent side of westerns it's still no Django Unchained and frankly it wouldn't do anything similar to desensitize your kid to violence. This is a must watch for any film lovers and I have strong faith in it becoming The Shane of my grandkids' time.
age 15+

Long and slow-moving, but worth it in the end

This movie is long and slow moving, but in the end it turns out to be quite powerful. Those who have the patience to ride it out, will be rewarded for their efforts. This is not your typical action based, shoot out filled western. "The Assassination of Jesse James" is really a psychological drama that just happens to be set in the old west. Most teens probably won't have the patience for this film, and the brutal violence and sexual references should keep away most kids under 15.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (6 ):

Roger Deakins' cinematography is heartbreakingly beautiful, alternately blurred and precise, the colors autumnal, the shadows long and evocative. Based on Ron Hansen's 1997 novel, Assassination suggests that Jesse's celebrity, even more than his crimes or his violent nature, leads to his dreadful end. The visuals make for an environment that reflects the inner lives of both Jesse and Bob, neither able to shake the other. "I can't figure it out," Jesse says, "You want to be like me or be me?" Jesse finds it difficult to give up "night-riding" and becomes increasingly paranoid. When he moves his children and wife, Zee (Mary-Louise Parker), to a cottage in Missouri, he feels restless, riding out occasionally to murder former gang members. These visits are turned into poetic vignettes, the camera close on the men's faces as they anticipate their fate, while Jesse remains unnervingly calm and decided.

At last landing on Bob and Charlie's doorstep, Jesse looks almost resigned when he hears Bob list "the many ways that you and I overlap and whatnot" (they share the same height, blue eyes, number of brothers, etc.). But Bob's obsession is never explosive; rather, the movie adopts a melancholy tone, creeping toward the moment when Jesse will essentially invite his "sidekick" to put him out of his misery, turning his back so that Bob can aim the new nickel-plated gun that Jesse gave him. Afterward, Bob and Charlie go on the road, performing and re-performing the assassination on stage hundreds of times (it's a little unnerving that Charlie plays Jesse and so "dies" repeatedly by his brother's hand). Though Bob yearns for the adulation he felt for his victim, he's instead reviled, a proto-tabloid figure who's mocked and resented. Though the film loses a kind of pulsing energy when Jesse is dead, that's partly the point: Bob's life also ends at the moment he tries to take control of it. He loses himself to the celebrity -- the idea and the man -- he so covets.

Movie Details

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