...How, then, does the film stand up? To look at it now, divorced from its reputation as a failure, “Jesse James” seems like something of an aberration: more “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” than “Unforgiven”, Dominik’s film seems quaintly melancholic, an old-fashioned lamentation for the iconography of the west, a study of a historical moment’s recording which aspires, perhaps too loftily, to follow in the footsteps of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”.
With every year since I first saw it, the film has grown in importance to me. Its cast is littered with gifted performers at the height of their power and luminousness. Its score, by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, is a classic in its own right. With apologies to Terrence Malick, whose style Dominik occasionally co-opts without mercy, it's the most visually beautiful movie of the last 30 years. Many of cinematographer Roger Deakins' images were shot with lenses made specifically for the film.