NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Tommy Lee Jones

Trying to find the right way to describe just how remarkable an experience it is, or what a privilege it is, to witness the Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. It is so good that it manages to set itself apart from most of the films released this year, looking down from the high tier of a list that includes great film after great film in 2007. Perhaps this new direction taken by the sibling filmmakers – adapting a novel for the first time in their career – was the right step in patching up what was sort of a slump for them recently. They haven’t had a good film in a few years and are without a great one since the underrated The Man Who Wasn’t There. It also seems as though they count on delivering an American classic around the middle part of each decade since they’ve started directing. In the 80’s they exploded onto the scene with the instant classic, Blood Simple, then just over ten years later in the mid-90’s, along came Fargo. Now, just over a decade after that they’ve given us their towering achievement.

It seems like every year there is one movie adaptation of a novel that clearly stands out above the dozens of others surrounding it, and that’s certainly due to the fact that that one finds the perfect marriage between writer and the director with the truest vision to flesh it out appropriately. There is no doubt that No Country For Old Men wins those rights in 2007, with Joel and Ethan Coen turning this story into a breathtaking, quietly intense, inevitably evil and even age-old cinematic tale that is so masterful  in every aspect of filmmaking, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it thoroughly studied in film classes someday. There is simply not a flaw to be found in the movie, as I found after three straight viewings on it’s opening weekend in mid-November, and it’s certain that all the awards-givers this year will have a hard time passing up anything in the film. What first must be noted is the incredible cinematography, helmed by Coen-favorite Roger Deakins, as he creates pitch-perfect landscapes and brilliant situational lighting that effect every moment of strangely calm intensity that seep throughout the movie. Tommy Lee Jones plays an old-fashioned Texas sheriff who pines for the days when lawmen didn’t even feel the need to wear a weapon around their waist to enforce. His breed is dying because because of the ever-escalating violence around our country, which is represented in shape of one man, named Sugar, played by Javier Bardem in one of the most eerie and cringe-inducing performances in film history. Sugar is certainly the most menacing villain in the last decade of American film. Stumbling accidentally in the path of both men is one ordinary and overzealous man named Llewelyn Moss, who is one of those classic Coen characters who lead themselves down a road that can only result in a trail of blood and chaos. Moss is played by Josh Brolin in one of his three memorable performances in 2007, the first and second being Planet Terror, and then American Gangster. Stunning visuals and frenetic entertainment aside, just the underlying theme of this film is brilliant enough and just one of the reasons why it earns the right to stand among a select few this year.

The Coens have proven themselves over the last 20+ years to be completely unique filmmakers, and it’s evident that they are at their best when dealing with those stories of people digging their own graves, with some unexpectedly graphic violence and oddly timed humor sprinkled all over the place. There are sure to be a ton of nominations thrown out to the film, and I feel that Bardem is nearly 100% certain to be the year’s best supporting actor. The moments Sugar’s presence is felt on screen in No Country For Old Men (and it’s very soon into it) I felt uncomfortable, literally clinching onto my seat at times in fear of what might happen next. No one but Jones could’ve rightly played the part of the sheriff, for he is a master at what he does and it just seemed molded for him, and Brolin’s work should not be overshadowed. There is also excellent work here by Kelly MacDonald, Woody Harrelson, and Stephen Root. This is a film that will take you in it’s grip from the moment it opens until the haunting final frame), and one you will not forget any time soon.

Rating: A+

R
2 hours 2 minutes
Paramount Vantage/Miramax

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One Response to “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN”

  1. Amanda Says:

    wow, amazing review!
    this movie scared the hell out of me.
    it seemed so real.
    and felt like it was really made back in the 70’s.
    Tommy Lee Jones is one of my favorites ever.

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