Saturday, November 17, 2007

No Country for Old Men

Joel and Ethan Coen | 2007 | 122 min | USA

I've seen No Country for Old Men twice already, and plan on seeing it at least a couple more times before it leaves theatres. After spending nearly a decade making bad movies, my once beloved Coen Brothers have finally decided to make a movie to win back my affections.

A trailer dwelling tough guy played by Josh Brolin stumbles upon a drug deal in the desert gone bad. Dead men everywhere, a pick-up truck full of heroin, and a case full of money (2 million moneys). He decides to take the money home with him so that he and his wife (Trainspotting's Kelly Macdonald, who's wonderful) can retire. Of course, the people who the 2 million belong to aren't pleased that it's gone missing, and send perhaps the most terrifying killer to grace the screen since... forever(?), played BRILLIANTLY by Javier Bardem, after him to retrieve it. The cherry on the top is the aged law enforcement officer played beautifully and never over the top by Tommy Lee Jones.

Those are the basics, but they don't do the film any justice. The tension is palpable in such a long-lasting and rare way. There aren't many chances to relax here. All of the performances are incredible, the dialogue is natural, pacing perfect, cinematography shockingly good, and even more shocking is the graphic violence that harkens back to Miller's Crossing and Fargo. This movie sticks to your ribs.

For a film that's based on a book, the Coens have definitely made it their own. Certain scenes seem like they're paying tribute to themselves, and their older films. Almost a knowing nod to the fact that it's a return to that territory, but thankfully not in a distracting way that takes you out of the story.

No Country for Old Men is about as good as movies get. My only complaint is that after years and years of considering Miller's Crossing as one of, if not my favourite film, the Coen Brothers have gone and made a film that just might be better than it. These are hard times with difficult decisions to be made.

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