November 29, 2012 by thedavidryan
No Country For Old Men – Review
“What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”
Yes devoted readers it is that time again, the time for me to review a film that I’ve always wanted to watch but
have been too lazy never got round to. The first part of this new feature saw me rave about the brilliant 1999 award magnet; American Beauty. However, todays ‘Finally got round to watching….’ is the 2007 American thriller; No Country For Old Men.
For those that have never checked out No Country For Old Men, allow me to set the scene. When Vietnam vet Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles across two million dollars from a Texan drug deal gone wrong, his decision to flee with the cash sets off a brutal chain of events, as psychotic Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) hunts down him and the missing drug money.
I’d heard a lot about No Country For Old Men for a long time before I finally got round to watching it and thankfully it did not disappoint. The extraordinarily hyped performance from Javier Bardem is both sinister and disturbing but absolutely merits his Academy Award nod for Best Supporting Actor in the role.
Despite having a haircut that Lloyd Christmas would be proud of, Bardem is in dazzling form as the psychopath that will cross any line and show no remorse to get back the lost drug money. Bardem owns every scene he’s in, with a notable mention to the chilling confrontation between his Anton Chigurh and a friendly shopkeeper. This scene had me completely engrossed with superb delivery from Bardem, giving a great insight to just how unhinged this man is.
As mentioned above, many of the plaudits I heard about the movie were surrounding the unsettling performance from Javier Bardem. However, it was Josh Brolin’s gritty portrayal of Llewelyn Moss that really caught me by surprise. It’s no secret that Josh Brolin has high-quality acting chops; however his turn as the recently wealthy Moss, trying to evade the gun toting Anton Chigurh was enthralling. This is some of Brolin’s best work to date, though the films strongest showing still belongs to Bardem.
Tommy Lee Jones was an excellent choice to play the grizzled Police Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, employed to hunt down Bardem and save Brolin before it was too late. Sheriff Bell’s character is arguably one of the most complex in the movie and it is only mid way through the picture that you realise the title and story of the film belongs to Jones’ weary Sheriff. You get an early sense to who Bell is almost immediately, with a tremendous opening monologue with the Sheriff explaining “My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; I think he’s pretty proud of that. I know I was.” It’s a great shame Sheriff Bell never has any face to face interaction with the unbalanced Bardem. Although, a scintillating scene between the two eventually takes place near the films climax, as both men are separated by only a motel door in a genuinely heart pounding standoff.
The Coen brother’s direction in No Country For Old Men is absolutely top draw. Infectious scenes such as the aforementioned motel door confrontation and a hotel room reunion between Bardem and the always good Woody Harrelson, are enticingly captured. A special mention must go to the shot where Sheriff Bell visits Moss’ trailer, ironically where Anton Chigurh had also been looking for Moss only minutes before. The Sheriff sits down in the same spot Chigurh had been sitting, and Bell sees his reflection in the dark glass of Moss’ television just as Chigurh had done. Their mirror images perfectly overlapping to great visual effect.
If I were to have one criticism of the movie it would be the ending to Brolin’s tale. While we ultimately see his end result, the process to how it happened is never revealed. I’ve not read the novel of which the picture was adapted from, so I don’t know if this is how it happens in the book. Nevertheless by not revealing the conclusion to Moss’ story, there feels like little to no payoff to the investment that has just been made to the character. While this is a slight niggle it was met with a ‘oh okay, so that’s it?’ whilst watching the outcome.
No Country For Old Men – Conclusion
Niggles aside, No Country For Old Men is a beautifully shot and compelling character driven picture, with superb performances from Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and especially the Academy Award winning Javier Bardem.
Next in line for the ‘Finally got round to watching….’ treatment is Full Metal Jacket and fingers crossed it can match the previous entries to the ‘Finally got round to watching….’ archive.
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