An Icon Re-imagined
NZ-born director Andrew Dominik has followed up his award-winning film Chopper with a psychological Western epic starring Brad Pitt. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford debuted at this month’s Venice Film Festival, where it won Pitt the award for Best Actor. Dominik based his screenplay on Ron Hansen’s historical novel Jesse James, which focuses on character development and atmosphere rather than the Western genre’s traditional shoot-em-up action. “I have zero interest in Jesse James as an American phenomenon,” says Dominik. “And I don’t like westerns – they are kind of dull, actually. It’s more about the characters’ relationships to their own selves rather than it is about their relationships to each other. Because their relationship with each other is superficial.” The LA Times describes Dominik’s film as “an elegiac inquiry into fate”; the Melbourne Age as “meandering, long, intense and unrelenting”.