Monday, November 19, 2007

See This...

The Cohen brothers are back. After 2 less then stellar films, Joel and Ethan are back to form with No Country for Old Men, a modern western based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. NCFOM follows 3 men (Josh Brolin as Llewellyn Moss, Tommy Lee Jones as Sherriff Ed Tom Bell and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh) as they traverse the modern American west.

A lot happens in NCFOM, but really, like The Darjeeling Limited, the film is about character and mood, and both are portrayed brilliantly. I've always been a Josh Brolin fan (I had the biggest crush on him when he played Brand in Goonies. I so wanted to be Andy...and not just because she was a cute redhead), but Brolin probably does his best work in this film. He is subtle and smart and wholly believable as a man who finds a huge case of cash and does just about anything to protect it so he can make a better life for his wife (played by Scot Kelly MacDonald, with a perfect southern accent). Tommy Lee Jones plays the quintessential lawman, as he always does, perfectly. He is funny and thoughtful; a lawman of the past, who actually cares about his job and the people he is meant to serve. And then there is Javier Bardem. It's been a long time since I've seen a character as powerful as Bardem's Chigurh. Every moment he's on screen (with his near flawless English which shocked me almost as much as anything) is incredible (He will be nominated for all the big awards. You can take it to the bank). As a complete psychopath who tracks Moss and the money, Bardem is mesmerizing and really scary. The fourth major character in the film is the American west itself. The film opens with shots of the beautiful, desolate country...a rough place where young and old alike struggle to survive. NCFOM is probably the quietest movie I've ever seen. There is little, if any, incidental music and scenes (especially with Moss and Chigurh) have almost no dialog. The sounds of the west make up the soundtrack and it's perfect. As they did with their early work, the Cohen brothers create an atmosphere wholly unique and completely engrossing.

As we left the theater, my friend said he didn't think he "got it" and I said, "I don't think there's anything to 'get'" and it's true. In NCFOM, stuff happens and doesn't really get resolved (which I've read many people are a bit upset about), but trying to figure out what it all means really isn't the point. The point is, you take the bloody, beautiful journey with these characters and maybe come out a little different at the end (not that the subject matter is life changing, but, for me anyway, when I see a work of art on film, it changes me. Maybe that's weird, but it's true) and NCFOM is definitely a work of art and the best film I've seen so far this year.


Liz said...


I think it was mostly about death, and how its going to get you no matter what. It doesn't really care.

Garney said...

I've seen so many people call this the best film of the year so far... I wonder if I would be saying the same thing if I hadn't read the book first.

As for what the film is about it's "The Times They Are a Changin'" and the fact that it's set in 1980 forces the viewer to really look at how much faster it's changing.