Jan 1, 2008

No Country For Old Men

No Country For Old Men is a modern day masterpiece. Nearly flawless in execution, it is a classic thriller of epic proportions. The suspense and dread in this film are enough to make your veins pop. Superb acting, economical writing and deadly realistic situations combine to produce cinema that is menacing, meticulous and masterly. The Coens are back!

Joel and Ethan Coen are jewels in the crown of cinema. Classic films like "Miller's Crossing", "Barton Fink" and "Fargo" have left an indelible impression. So, after the misstep of "The Ladykillers" it is exciting to witness them back at the top of their game. In fact, it is entirely possible that this bleak and unrelenting film is their best work yet. Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, No Country For Old Men is set in rural Texas in 1980. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a Vietnam Vet living in a trailer park with his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald). Hunting one day on a herd of Pronghorn, he comes across a drug deal gone horribly wrong. Dead bodies are strewn everywhere. After surveying the scene, he retrieves a suitcase filled with 2 million dollars in cash. Moss' great find soon becomes an enormous burden. The men who own the money naturally want it back and they use Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) to achieve this task. However Chigurh decides to retrieve the money for himself. Chigurh is a relentless man, who would kill a person easily as taking a breath. The film becomes a game of deathly cat and mouse between Moss and Chigurh, with a trail of extreme destruction following them everywhere. The third main character is County Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a wisened, cynical man with a dry sense of humour. He finds himself always one step behind the action and a little exasperated by the trail of violence. The story line is never predictable, the characters surprising you through out the film. Although their characters arcs don't all fully resolve, the ending is pitch perfect. Although I was left with quite a few questions by the end, I was totally satisfied with the conclusions. They were so well written and performed that I couldn't have asked for any more.

See this film now. It is highly unlikely you will see a better film in 2008, unless it is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It has many great qualities. The acting is superb. Brolin is rough and rugged, Jones is perfect as the world weary Sheriff and Bardem is a pure revelation. I have never seen a more menacing and frightening character on screen. He is scary, but in a totally original way. This film had me closing my eyes many times. The suspense and tension is expertly crafted. In the genre of crime thrillers this film stands supreme. It is not a film of tenderness or inspiration, humour or beauty. It is about violent men carrying out violent acts. It is about the black and white struggle of good and evil. It is concerned with dire consequences when we make the wrong decisions. It is about crossing the line and dealing with the outcome. It is full of rich and intriguing characters who inhabit a world unknown to us. It is beautifully shot by Roger Deakins, his stark and desolate landscapes perfectly matching the tone of the film. I can honestly say not a single frame is wasted. The rhythms, the push and pull of this sublime film are a sight to behold. I guarantee this is a cinematic experience not to be missed.

1 Comments:

  • At January 04, 2008 , Blogger The Constant Skeptic said...

    I was lucky enough to see this film when it debuted in bethesda, md at the landmark... my wife and I saw it on a whim and it blew our minds... much like the first time I realized that we can control reality with our minds...

     

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