This slow-burn crime-thriller is arguably the Coens’ finest achievement.
Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen
2007 | USA | Crime/Drama/Thriller | 122 mins | 2.35:1 | English
NC16 (passed clean) for strong graphic violence and some language
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly MacDonald
Plot: Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande.
Awards: Won 4 Oscars – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay. Nom. for 4 Oscars – Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing. Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes Film Festival)
Source: Paramount (Park Circus)
Subject Matter: Dark
Narrative Style: Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
(Reviewed in theatres – first published 10 Feb 2008)
Nominated for eight Academy Awards, No Country For Old Men is one of the two front runners for this year’s Oscars along with Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. Head-to-head, the latter emerges the victor. However, No Country For Old Men is by no means a pushover, giving Anderson’s film a genuine run for its money. Directed and written for the screen by the immensely gifted Oscar-winning filmmakers Joel & Ethan Coen, and based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, this motion picture is made to win awards in mind.
For their latest masterpiece, the Coens make the decision to stay with their tried-and-tested route, using conservative storytelling and filming techniques that serve the plot well although it lacks the scope and inventiveness of Anderson’s direction in There Will Be Blood. The thing I love about the Coens is their ability to crank up the suspense to immensely unbearable levels with absolutely minimal use of sound or music. The material here presents them with many opportunities to perfect their blend of silent suspense.
“What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”
There are three main characters played by Josh Brolin, Spanish actor Javier Bardem and the evergreen Tommy Lee Jones. All give sterling performances with the standout being Bardem whose character, Anton Chigurh, is perhaps the most frightening ever, since Anthony Hopkins’ cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Armed with a high-pressure gas canister as a murderous weapon and wearing a mop-like hairstyle, Chigurh is a villain who does not know the meaning of mercy. You wouldn’t want to run into him in a crowded shopping mall, let alone in a dark alley at night.
No Country For Old Men can be said to be a Western set in contemporary times, an update for the next generation of moviegoers. The unexpected ending may be a sore point for some, but it will be highly appreciated by discerning viewers who demand something more thought-provoking than what current movies can offer. The Coens’ comeback film will likely dominate during Oscar night.