Wednesday, 23 January 2008

No Country For Old Men Review

I have something that I must confess. I have never, or at least had never seen a Coen Brothers film before. I blame this partly due to the fact that I cannot buy 18 DVDs or get into 18-rated films, and have thus been unable to purchase such desirables as Fargo and The Big Lebowski, though they are currently high on my list.

On Saturday, I took the plunge, and, parents in tow, we went to see No Country For Old Men, all those 5-Star reviews buzzing around my head. How could a this film be? There are so many things I have to say about this film that I'm going to make it obvious, rather than skilfully blend everything together in various paragraphs.

Firstly, the cinematography is outstanding. The direction is absolutely brilliant, shots that could have been dull and uninspiring are made all the more direct by placing the audience on the bonnet of cars, or using long shots to give an unsettling sense of the deserted wilderness that surrounds our 'hero'. The lack of music throughout further gives the view of isolation, and is highly effective in many of the more tense scenes: the audience can hear every creak and groan in every floor board, every whistle in the wind, every *ptung!* from Chigurgh's deranged silenced shotgun.

Secondly, the story is utterly compelling. We follow Llewelyn, as he hunts in the desert and stumbles across the bloody aftermath of a drug deal. Finding a case with $2 000 000 cash, but is subsequently followed by the psychopathic "clean-up" guy, who will stop at nothing to Llewelyn and get that cash. Following the horrific events portrayed is old sheriff Bell, played brilliantly by Tommy Lee Jones, unable to catch up with this "new" form of evil. As a thriller, it is brilliantly executed, and reportedly very close to the source novel by Cormack McCarthy, with many scenes causing the audience to gasp and hold their breath, waiting for the terrifying inevitability. One such scene is that in the motel, suffocating tension soaking the audience.

All of the performances are brilliant:
  • Josh Brolin is arrogant, vulnerable, and has questionable morals
  • Javier Bardem looks unbreakable and unpredictable
  • Tommy Lee Jones looks suitably tired and baffled
I found myself genuinely sorry for Llewelyn's wife, an innocent bystander caught in an awful mess through no fault of her own. Everyone does what their character is supposed to do, but far surpassing the urge to simply cruise.

No Country is also one of those films where for days after, you simply can't stop thinking about it. The final monologue has so much meaning and depth that I was staggered by the effect of it - an effect which I can't go into here, without giving away massive spoilers. I also loved the way that the audience is deceived; though he may not seem to be, Sheriff Bell is the main, most important chacrater here, the titular "old man". If you haven't already seen it, it's worthwhile to concentrate on his scenes to obtain the true meaning of the film, making it all the more special.

There are many questions asked by this film: Is this a new form of evil? Or has evil simply stayed the same, with Bell just becoming older and more tired? Is Anton [Javier Bardem] responsible for those deaths, or should he blame fate? There's just so much to think about. Much has been said about the "unsatisfying" ending, but those who concentrated found it an integral part of the story, and whilst those who prefer more conventional thrillers might see it as a cop-out, it has deeper meanings. And besides, this movie isn't conventional. It's so much more special than that. There's more I'd like to say about No Country, but I rather not ruin it for you. Needless to say, it is brilliant. Go and see it now, and be prepared to be blown away harder than any of Chigurgh's victims.

Entertainment Value: 4/5
Genre Value: 4/5
Style: 5/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5


UnionJackson said...

Deffo one for DVD :D

Anonymous said...

i absolutely hated the film. to quote a fellow blogger (coz i could not have putit better): Basically, it's a narrative that doesn't really go anywhere. The story has no natural trajectory. And it has no redeeming message, either. Just lots of gratuitous violence.

Is it well acted and beautifully shot? Sure. But it's kind of hard to sit through a movie for a couple of hours and walk out totally unmoved, unchanged, and without anything real to show for your two hours.

And I really cannot fathom what meaningful message you got out of tommy lee jones' long crappy diatribe at the end right up to the point when the film crashes to a halt with a dull thud.

quite positively one of the worst and least entertaining movies of that year.

Anonymous said...

This has to be the most insufferably arrogant film I have ever seen in my entire life. The acting and cinematography was brilliant, but other than that, it was complete rubbish.
This film moves slow and then every now and then chucks in some scenes where one of the characters will mercilessly slaughter innocent victims, and for what reason? None really.
This film plays on the arrogance of those who think they understand good films, by presenting a bland and uninspired story, whilst masquerading under the false pretence of having some sort of moral message in it.
The only message to it was that the Coen brothers are losing their knack for filmaking.
The Coen brothers try to tell us that this movie is about how violence is becoming to much a part of our society. I'm sorry, but if you need the Coen brothers to tell you the most obvious facts in the world, then you are obviously a complete moron. Of course violence is becoming to much a part of our society, and its because people like the Coen brothers keep making these terrible movies with mindless violence in them.
I can't stand films like this, one's which benefit on the fact that the majority of critics out there don't care about good filmaking anymore, they just care about presenting the image that they support this kind of movie because its "intelligent", when it is the polar opposite. Go see Inception, Memento, Prestige, or any film made by Christopher Nolan if you want to see a smart film.
Not only is this film terrible, it is also insanely racist. The story follows a Mexican man who goes around killing people, whilst all the white characters are kind and welcoming. So the message the Coen brothers are trying to represent when making this film is that they believe Mexicans are the reason that violence is too big a part of our society these days.
If you want to see a movie that is slow paced, has great acting, great screenplay, great cinematography, brilliant plot, and provides beautiful messages that actually mean something, watch The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This film however is absolute garbage.

No Country For Old Men has to be quite literally one of the worst films I have ever seen in my entire life, don't make the mistake of watching it as well.

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