Local opening date: 11/16/2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
When the Coen brothers-Joel and
Ethan-are at the top of their game, their work creates a decidedly strange and
thoroughly engrossing world. Producing, directing, editing and sometimes
writing their films, the Coens have hit homeruns with Fargo, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, O, Brother, Where Art Thou? and
others. But even their gripping debut film Blood
Simple barely prepares us for No
Country for Old Men, an amazing achievement in every thematic and technical
Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel, the Coens honor the author by
translating the story with pitch perfect existential dread. A nerve-rattling
pursuit ensues after ne'er-do-well Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), hunting in the
desert, stumbles upon a drug deal gone deadly. Moss steals the $2 million on
hand, and sure as death, sociopathic hit man Anton Chigurh(Javier Bardem) soon
follows with Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) hoping to get to Moss first.
Though it isn't explained in the
film, the title No Country for Old Men comes
from Irish poet William Butler Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium." Yeats' poem suggests most Sheriff
Bell's qualities, brilliantly conveyed by Jones. Wise, experienced, world-weary,
is appalled at the new brand of violence, beyond any cold-blooded cruelty he's
seen in his long career.
that into ominous detail is five time Academy Award nominee Roger Deakins who
shot the film. In an October American Cinematographer
article, Deakins says the stories of No
Country for Old Men and another film he shot that's in cinemas now, The Assassination of Jesse James by the
Coward Robert Ford, are more than the sum of their parts. And, indeed, both
deeply affect the attentive viewers' mind and emotions because of great
performances and superb technical choices. No
Country for Old Men was shot in super-35 millimeter in and around Sante Fe.
The landscape breathes and lives; the lighting expresses moods of each locale; and
the sound design conveys every squeak, hiss, whisper of wind, and bated breath
as we hold our breath, hearts in our throats. Seldom has a villain been more
unnerving than Bardem who reeks havoc. At one point Sheriff Bell's deputy
describes one bloody scene as "a mess." Bell
replies, "If it ain't, it'll do until the mess gets here." No Country for Old Men is a stunning film, a brilliant feat of
moviemaking. If it isn't, it'll do until perfection gets here. At Landmark's
Plaza Frontenac cinema.
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