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: Movie Review - No Country For Old Men
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Feb 16th 2008
How do you know a movie is spectacular? If you ask me, when you go watch it with unbelievably high hopes and you still love it. NCFOM left me emotionally broken, a feeling which I love. This is probably the Coens' best work, and that's a huge compliment.
The story is simple. It's a mere excuse. The man running from a deadly killer is not the focus here. The meaning behind that is. Beggining with a sad monologue from Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), the movie soon makes clear what its subject is: violence.
Therefore, considering Anton Chigurh a supporting character makes no sense. He's the center of NCFOM. The whole movie is about him, about his personality, about his cruelty. And casting Javier Bardem for the role was perfect. Bardem is absolutely brilliant. With a calm voice, his Anton Chigurh makes perfectly clear when he's angry just through his eyes. His clothes and hairdo make him more disturbing, but even wearing a dress Bardem's Chigurh would still be threatening. The actor's performance is full of subtleties that mix together into one full, incredibly powerful character.
Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones excel at their roles too. Brolin, as Llewelyn Moss, never wastes a good line and acts with a great naturality. Jones has some of the best lines in the film, and his excellent timing made me laugh several times. At the same time, Jones' performance at grimmer scenes is touching and real. Kelly MacDonald and Woody Harrelson don't have as much screen time, but they also shine.
As for the direction, Joel and Ethan Coen once again show they were born for this. The movie's filled with outstanding images and elegant camera movements that never get in the way of the story, just enrich it. The landscapes are breathtaking, and they are important in creating that feeling of loneliness which is so important for the story. Another thing that contributes to that is the lack of any background music, instead using sound effects with great efficiency to cause tension (bip-bip-bip) or melancholy (the wind). The action scenes are brilliantly shot and edited. There's no shaky cameras here (yes, that means FUCK YOU, TONY SCOTT), every frame is precise, making the scenes perfectly easy to follow.
And also, we have the Coen's typical sense of humor. The movie's filled with brilliant lines, many of them adapted word by word from McCarthy's original novel. But the way it is shot just makes it even funnier. When Carson Wells (Harrelson) asks what Moss did with the money, Moss' response is the best line of the movie. Even Chigurh is, sometimes, funny with his coldness and weird sense of humor.
And the ending? Perfect. Bloody perfect. A kick in Hollywood's balls. Best ending possible, really. It summarizes the whole point of the movie and book perfectly. And Sheriff Bell's final line is beautiful, a sad utopia. Icing on top of the cake.
Just goes to show that, when you're sick of Hollywood's cliches and formulas, you can always trust the Coens to tell their stories the way THEY want it to tell, not in a way that'll make the audience feel "comfortable".
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