The Unloved – The Assassination of Jesse James

Scout Tafoya‘s The Unloved series for tries to reappraise movies that were savaged by the critics or ignored by the audience. In this video essay, he pleads the case of Andrew Dominik’s overlooked masterpiece The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.


The result is a piece that beautifully illustrates the difference between the approach of the film critic (as in: writer of movie reviews) and the film essayist.


First, he takes a step back from the pressures of time that usually limit the scope of a film review. Tafoya uses the time that has elapsed since the movie’s release to trace the ways in which it has since percolated into film culture. His essay puts the undervalued western in a broader historical perspective than most film reviews can or care to.


Then, the video essay takes a decidedly personal turn. He opens up about how the movie’s themes have resonated in his personal life. His intensely personal approach doesn’t devolve into navel-gazing but instead is an elegant way to talk about the film’s themes in depth.


Finally, Tafoya adopted the film’s tone as his own in making this video essay. The video’s leisurely pace and contemplative narration fit this particular movie perfectly.