April 3, 2008

There Are No Clean Getaways

Posted in Crime, Drama, Movies, Thriller at 9:44 pm by inflickted


I have always loved gruesome movies. I think the number of horror film reviews I posted here can prove that. I have seen fountains of blood and chopped of limbs. It is one genre of the cinema that has a special place in my heart. And, if the gore is coupled with excellent story-tellers, what more can I ask for!

The Coen brothers are no strangers to gore and violence. They have created magnificent films and their latest offering is no exception. No Country For Old Men, is a suspense drama that is  set in the western times of Texas. The story and the characters are fueled by fate, carnage, and chances. It is a faithful adaptation of the 2005 novel of Cormac McCarthy.


The brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen have produced splendid films in the past, like “Fargo” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” However, No Country For Old Men has to be their best yet. Their amazing direction and exact script writing only magnifies the story and its powerful atmosphere. They use many elements: images, like the boot scuffed floor that looks like a crazed charcoal drawing, Sound, like the crackling of a crumpled candy wrapper, and Stillness, like the intense pause while watching your predator make his move. These facets are as important as any character, and the formalistic prowess that the Coens wield in “NCFOM” is as electrifying as it is effortless.

Speaking of characters, they are effective and purposeful. Even extras have significant roles to play. Our villain, Anton Chigurh is played by the great Javier Bardem. Bardem is the film’s dark star, its malevolent centre. His character is not developed in any way, but Chigurh is one of the most terrifying villains to grace the silver screen in a couple of years. He uses a compressed air gun – normally used to slaughter cattle – in killing his victims which depicts what he thinks of them. The character Llewelyn Moss is portrayed by Josh Brolin who stumbles upon millions of dollars and foolishly thinks he can keep the money and live to tell about it. The other main character is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell played by Tommy Lee Jones the supposed “Old Man” referred to by the title. He is the moral center of the movie who becomes unsettled with what is happening to his small town.

The dialogue is lean and nothing is wasted. Some of the most gripping scenes are those without any dialogue at all. It gives the audience a lot of time to second guess the motives for the actions of the characters, while we also ask ourselves what we would do. There are frequent bursts of striking violence, but the Coens also take the time to show the life-changing moments right after something shocking has just taken place. The manner of death or serious injury is not nearly important as showing how the survivors deal with it. As exciting and tense as “NCFOM” can be, as beautifully shot and edited as the action is, we never quite get used to the violence we see. In the end, when the movie’s few decent characters survey the damage, we feel what they feel and see the same violence in a more humane light.

No Country For Old Men, is a nail-biting masterpiece of suspense, operating on a philosophical level that is as sophisticated as it is compelling. The scene that sums up the story and has struck me, is the last scene of Sheriff Bell. The story becomes less about the violence and more about an old man’s weary observance of it, and his fear that the future will only bring more and worse. “You can’t stop what’s coming,” one character states, suggesting that no matter whether good or evil survive in this battle, evil is winning the war.


It gets a 4.85 out of 5 or  97% infectious


1 Comment »

  1. silvercharm said,

    I think this movie is highly over-rated. The book is much better, as is often the case with films based on novels. Where this movie fails miserably is in two key areas. One: the main character is made out to be the guy who finds the money, yet he is slaughtered. Two: there is absolutely no hope for the future instilled in the audience. We come away wondering why we paid good money and spent the time to sit through a harrowing film which ultimately fails to deliver on what it promises. It’s pretty sad when we begin to try identifying with a psychopathic serial killer. The film-makers did not do a good job of fleshing out the sheriff, and as a result I wouldn’t recommend the film. They were doing a great job but left me with no reason to “hold onto” the memory of the film. It taught us next to nothing about society today.

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