No Country for Old Men
Paul Cook 28/02/2008
BAFTA and OSCAR have rightly graced this film with an array of awards for best directors, best supporting actor and best film and even though its been in cinemas for over a month now, it should stay there until every film fan and occasional moviegoer alike has seen it. Performance-wise this is one of the richest and deepest films of recent years with its lead actors giving unforgettable depictions of a hunted man and his hunter. Dark, brooding and simply oozing with suspense from start to finish, Javier Bardem, the calculating, emotionless killer chases Josh Brolin's desperate average-Joe to the ends of the earth to retrieve a bag-full of drug money. The film also follows Texan Sheriff Tommy Lee Jones and his battle to not only solve the case but prevent any more ensuing carnage.
The story of the film is much like any other, with clearly influenced elements of dozens of films from recent years. This is not to say the film isn't about as original as you can get. The inimitable Coen brothers have every auteur trait possible and it shows. It is as though the Coen's have taken everything they love from similarly suspenseful films and shoved them all together until they form No Country for Old Men, the greatest film they've made since Fargo. The story itself is second only to the film's immense talent off-screen, from its beautiful cinematography, edge-of-seat stunts to its astonishingly slick editing and direction. The narrative is a vehicle, a sturdy, stable vehicle certainly, for exceptionally powerful performances and masterful filmmaking. No Country for Old Men could be seen as a south-American/Mexican 'Collateral' packing a harder punch, grittier content and cramming what's left with searing tension.
Without appearing to consciously go against Hollywood conventions, the film is refreshingly new and innovative and its final scenes come totally unexpected and leave you wondering whether to love it or to hate it. You will realise soon after that you love it, and if you don't, you are simply too indoctrinated with Hollywood happy endings. 2008 will certainly have a difficult time trying to match the excellence of this film and its 2007 counterparts. For a film which has had so much hype and praise, No Country for Old Men should be a disappointment. In fact it surpasses any preconceptions or expectations and a day or two after the initial shock of its odd, unconventional ending you realise you have probably witnessed one of the greatest films of the 21st century so far.