Review: No Country for Old Men
PLOT: Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin)- a Texas welder, out hunting Antelope near the Rio Grande, stumbles upon a drug related massacre- where he finds a truckload of heroin, and a satchel full of cash. He impulsively grabs the cash- and spends the rest of the film on the run from the various people sent by the corporation behind the massacre to retrieve the cash. Among those sent after Moss is a vicious psychopath named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who likes to dispatch his victims with a bizarre contraption that's similar to a device used to kill cattle in slaughterhouses. Also looking for Moss is local Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who quickly realizes he's out of his element once he witnesses Chigurh's savagery.
REVIEW: Leave it to the Coen Brothers to pull off the impossible. They've turned a Cormac McCarthy novel into a film that's just as good as the book it's based on.
Cormac McCarthy is not an easy writer to adapt to the silver screen. Just ask Billy Bob Thorton- who is 2000 directed ALL THE PRETTY HORSES - based on McCarthy's acclaimed novel. The film was a complete disaster (thanks in no small part to the meddling of Harvey Weinstein) and seemingly ended Thornton's career as a director.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN comes along at an interesting time in Joel & Ethan Coen's careers. Their last great film, arguably, was "Fargo" way back in 1996. Since then they made a whole bunch of films- some good (THE BIG LEBOWSKI, THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE & O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?), and some bad (THE LADYKILLERS & INTOLERABLE CRUELTY - which was intolerable).
I'm happy to say that not only is NO COUNTRY a triumphant comeback for the Coen's, but it also might just be their best film to date.
For the record, the Coen Brothers stick pretty close to McCarthy's novel- only making a few slight changes. The downbeat, yet at times darkly humorous tone of the book is kept intact. The film is also probably one of the most beautiful films to come along in quite sometime, with rich cinematography by Roger Deakins- which gives this intimate story an epic look. Another great choice by the Coens was to almost completely remove all traces of a musical score from the film. Coen regular Carter Burwell supplies a bare minimum of underscore, and whatever music they do use is extremely unobtrusive and quiet.
But for me, what truly makes this film great is the brilliant cast- the standout among standouts being Javier Bardem. His Chigurh is one of the best villains of all time- comparable to Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. As Moss, Josh Brolin is terrific- and holds his own opposite Bardem- which is no small feat. For more Brolin, check out his scene stealing roles in PLANET TERROR and AMERICAN GANGSTER.
Tommy Lee Jones also does a great job in NO COUNTRY - he's the perfect embodiment of a Cormac McCarthy hero. Rumor has it he's been trying to get an adaptation of "Blood Meridian" off the ground for years. Jones obviously understands exactly what McCarthy was going for in the novel, and plays his role flawlessly.
Seriously folks - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is a great film - but don't take my word for it. Check it out yourself. You won't be sorry.
My Rating: 10/10