Wednesday, February 13, 2008

No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brothers have a reputation for making unconventional films. But No Country for Old Men starts in a conventional fashion. It opens with voice-over a monologue by Tommy Lee Jones as a Texas country sheriff and a man out deer hunting who comes across the aftermath of a gun-fight. There are dead bodies of men and dogs, abandoned pick-up trucks (one packed with packets of drugs) and a heavy black bag of $100 bills. We don't need any dramatic chords to know that taking home the money is the bad idea that will give us our plot.

Of course there are people on both sides of the drug deal who weren't at the gun fight and in particular Anton Chigurh (played by Javier Bardem) who will kill anyone to get his hands on the money. The Chigurh character is the lynch pin of this movie. His soft voice, his blank expression, his weapon of choice and his relentlessness are compelling and repelling in equal parts. His counterpart is Llewelyn Moss, the deer hunter - played by Josh Brolin, a resourceful, independent and stubborn man and the one we are rooting for in this thriller. Sheriff Bell is on the trail of these two and provides us with the sort of laconic commentary that is second nature to Tommy Lee Jones.

This is a thriller and therefore we know where we are going, and for the most part the Coen Brothers are happy to oblige. There is plenty of violence, close escapes, black humour, taunting and even a "fairy godmother" (Woody Harrelson is a white cowboy hat). But I am happy to say that there is also a musical turn and a very untraditional ending that I won't say any more about.

To sum up: No Country for Old Men is an extremely violent and somewhat unconventional thriller set in west Texas that will leave a lasting impression.

Ian's rating 3.5/5

1 comment:

  1. Antony K3:49 pm

    Love this one, i've seen it quite a few times now - definitely my fav Coen brothers movie. Visually it's stunning - incredible cinematography. Javier Bardem 's character is one of the most memorable screen villains in any movie. Sparse script, very dark themes running throughout the movie, such as on the moral decay of American society and the way the world becomes overwhelming as you age. Also an enthralling storyline.