Having not seen The Assassination til today, I thought I was stating my film appreciation for last year with some ignorance. But now I've seen it.
First, the DP, Roger Deakins, who also did No Country is a genius. My favorite part, probably of both films, was how they were shot. He's actually responsible for the "look" of more of my favorite films than any other human being. If Roger Deakins ever needs a spare organ, I would happily give it. The man has done more for American cinema than any other single human being I can think of, including writers, actors, and directors. I may take this back later, but I doubt it.
Second, the film is not particularly active. More contemplative. In that it's supposed to be more about Robert than Jesse, I think, it works. We're outsiders who are almost insiders. There's a lot of boredom. Crime's not exciting, not really. It's a character study, this film, and yes, apparently, Casey Affleck is capable of being on the screen for 2 and a 1/2 hours without making me want to punch him. Who woulda guessed?
And yet, the film didn't get under my skin. Maybe it was the biographical, historical aspect of the film. The voice over. But while truly excellent, it didn't have the effect on me No Country did, or heck, even There Will Be Blood.
And yet, I have nothing to criticize. The criminal underuse of Zooey Deschanel and Mary Louise Parker, two of my favorite actresses, makes sense, considering they weren't really central to Ford's story with Jesse. And, of course, Paul Schneider worked the supporting cast quite well, as did Garret Dillahunt and Sam Shepard. Sam Rockwell's a bit too much for me. He would have felt more at home, I think, in There Will Be Blood, but I did love his last few scenes.
I think it would have done really brilliantly on HBO as a miniseries. Just a thought.