Friday, 16 August 2013

No Country for Old Men (2007

No Country for Old Men, 2007, USA
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin & Woody Harrelson

"My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs ant the same time; him up in plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was." 

Often during reviews, I will give suggestions as to how I think this film can be improved. This film has been said to deliver everything I have ever asked from a film, including cinematography techniques, intensity, sophistication, Woody Harrelson, strong character development and a less-is-more approach. This film promises to be a cinematic legend, so during my fist viewing I was nervous and excited for the ride No Country for Old Men promises to give me...

In the “badlands” of rural Texas, hunter and welder Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stubbles across the bloodied bodies of several drug runners after a “drug deal gone wrong” to discover 2 million dollars of drug money which he naturally takes. Unbeknown to him, the psychopath Anton Chigurh (played by Javier Bardem) is about to pursue Moss for “his” money. This leads to one of the deadliest of man hunts expanding Texas and Mexico, which threatens Moss’ existence and that of his wife. Coinciding with this, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Jones) attempts his own pursuit for the man responsible to countless deaths in his county. 

This is a very, very good film. Perhaps the most intense film I have ever seen and the sophistication of such a minimalistic film unmatched. Though I personally found some parts confusing, but I can only likened it my viewing of the Shinning to explain how the viewer doesn’t need to have full understanding of the film to be content with it. No Country for Old Men has certainly achieved everything I have ever wanted from a film. Everything from set, location, cinematography, cast and acting is second to none for this film. 

The whole less-is-more idea has been implored heavily in this film and is a credit to this renowned direction duo. Similar to other Coen film like The Big Lebowski (which I acknowledged I discredited in a previous review but have recently change views), this film contains very little in terms of storyline. I would often discredit this approach to film making but it has work exceptional well in this case. The direction is superb and minimal lighting; set location and camera transitions are the best I have ever seen in a Coen film. The “Badlands” of America are depicted as the baron and deadly waste land I always imagined, but I never imagined I could love it as much as this film has made me love it. 

Performances are truly amazing as well. The film begins with an inspiring monologue by the legendary voice of Tommy Lee that gives detail into life in Southern Texas, and he does not shy away from its horror. His character is superbly executed and well developed, as are all characters. The amount of time and effort made by both the actors and the character developers should be the bench mark for any film. Characters are portrayed and developed excellently. But the true stand out of this film is Bardem’s interpretation of one of the scariest bad guys of the decade (and perhaps all decades of cinematic history). This character is so ruthless and sooo cool (despite his weird hair), that he oozes perfection wherever he goes. His method of murder is also chilling to say the least, and his reasoning even colder (hense why is so ‘cool’). The fear of this character is also enhanced by the other characters attitudes towards his. Josh Borlin’s acting is also fin in this film. I felt an isolation and a connection the Llewelyn throughout the movie and that is not often achieved by actors. But the best part of the film for me was when a handsome cowboy walled out of an elevation and lifts his head to identify himself as Woody Harrelson. He is sooooo cool and especially in this film. Other characters such as Llewelyn’s wife Carla Jean (played by Kelly Macdonald), Wendell (Garret Dillahunt) and even Gene Johns as the Gas station owner all add to the intensity and awesomeness.

Sometimes, I can’t believe just how good a film can be. But No Country for Old Men simply is that good. I was incredibly impressed by this film that the only thing I can do is to watch it again. After a recant re-watch I found nothing I could suggest, I had nothing to add because this film has it all, despite its minimalism. I have only seen this film two times but it is quickly becoming one of my favourite films of all time.
***** (5)

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