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
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
Overall rating: 4.5/5