March 06, 2008

Movie Review: No Country for Old Men

I went to see this movie last weekend. After the big Oscar win, No Country came back to the local theaters. The movie is about accidents and being at the wrong place at the wrong time and how being evil sometimes comes with a code of morals.

There are three major players: Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), who stumbles across a drug deal gone bad, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who starts out chasing Llewelyn for the money and ends up chasing him because of the fact that his chase is taking so long, and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a sheriff who cracks up and becomes useless. It has a signature Coen brothers look: lots of dreary landscapes and very macabre characters. This is a great movie for all of those cynics out there.

I think of this movie as mostly a character study. It got an Oscar for screenplay, which I don't think was the strongest part of the movie for me.
There was some fantastic writing, but the movie was uneven to me. On the one hand you had the chase and the evasion. On the other hand, you had all these monologues from characters that revealed things about their pasts. It seemed like a suspense mashed in with a Shakespeare tragedy. It didn't work for me. Some have compared it to the feel of a Hitchcock film and I couldn't disagree more. Hitchcock did blend suspense with characters studies but the suspense was always the strongest part of the movie. It never took a back seat to the character study. Rather, the character study was merely a tool for drawing the reader farther in. In No Country, you don't really care who gets the money, as long as you don't have to see Chigurh do another coin toss ever again.

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