Sunday, December 2, 2007

Movie Review: No Country For Old Men

(warning-spoiler alert)
The Coen brothers, are arguably, the greatest film makers around. Even their "worst" movies are great in my mind. Ok, maybe I'm biased but I actually enjoyed both "The Ladykillers" and "Intolerable Cruelty", even though I felt the ending fell apart miserably with the latter. Actually, that may be the biggest flaw I find with the Coen brothers' films...their endings. Some times they seem rushed, thrown together at the last minute just to get it over with to create an "ending". But after watching "No Country For Old Men", I have come to realise that the weak ending is a mark of their great film making.

The Coen brothers' latest is based on a novel by Cormack McCarthy, who's novel "The Road" I just read recently. The story, set in the Texas/Mexico border area circa 1980, centers on three characters: Lewellyn Moss(Josh Brolin), a hunter who finds $2 million from drug deal gone south; Anton Chigurh(superbly played by Javier Bardem), the psychopath hired to recover the money; and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), the world-weary sheriff trying to figure it all out and help Moss and his young wife Carla Jean(Kelly MacDonald).

"No Country" allows the Coens to further delve into familiar subject matter...crimes gone horribly, horribly wrong and the greed that fuels them. There's really not that much dialog in the film as the Coens', along with trusty cinematographer, Roger Deakins, are quite adept at manipulating the audience with camera angles and movement. The dialog that's there is just as intense as their camera angles, whether it's Chigurh's short and stoic lines or Sheriff Bell's thoughtful commentaries, both are equally effective in conveying one's disturbing evilness, and the other's heavy-hearted humanity.

The story after while, settles into what seems a typical cat and mouse drama, in which the shrewd and resourceful Moss, is able to evade and fend off the methodical, Chigurh who Javier Bardem's excellently portrays as a true human monster, a cinematic villain who's actually scary. After a while, however things don't exactly go as expected and some audience members may not like it. I've heard many people complain about the ending and I admit, I thought to myself that I might be disappointed.

I think...and this is purely, my own opinion, that the Coen brother's don't do good Hollywood endings because they don't like them or don't believe in them...because in reality there are no endings. In this world, good doesn't always win over evil and bad things happen to good people. Everyone someday will have to face that fact and none of us are special enough that we won't. That is what I took from the film.

Well who really knows? I am no film expert, just a huge fan of these guys. The great thing about their films is that they are so layered and textured that I can watch them over and over again and come away with something new. I will definitely see this one again...and again. By any standards, this is an amazing achievement - for it's writing, it's acting and directing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spoiler alert?!!! How about 'Grumpy Old Assclown Reviews Art House Films He Barely Understands' alert...!

Pauline Kael you are NOT!