Film Review: IMDbinge - No Country For Old Men (2007)
Catherine's 2016 Challenge - watch all 250 of IMDb's top rated films. Today she reviews No Country For Old Men. This Oscar-winning, Western meets Film Noir film is currently no. 166 on the list.
I have to admit that I have attempted to watch the Coen Brothers’ Best Picture Oscar winner once before and I regret to say that I got bored or tired and stopped. I know that sounds blasphemous and I have been meaning to rectify this mistake for many years, the film sitting happily in my watch list on Netflix waiting for a golden opportunity to be watched again. However, I can still understand why that happened to me the first time but we’ll get to that later...
With a line-up of talent that includes the never-step-a-foot-wrong Coen brothers, the thoroughly successful cinematographer Roger Deakins and to die for cast, it's a recipe for a huge critical hit and was bound to produce something cinematically delicious. And it is.
No Country for Old Men follows the sombre killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who is determined to retrieve his millions from hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), whilst also being pursued by the local sheriff, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). As always, the Coen brothers appear to have coaxed the very best out of an excellent cast whilst managing to shape a visually enchanting and narratively alluring film. Javier Bardem as Chigurh quite rightly snapped up the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor but I would argue that all of the performances in this film are excellent and I would point also to the great Tommy Lee Jones. In the course of the film we see his sincere sense of justice overcome by his powerlessness, embodied in a line towards the end of the movie when he says, ‘Call the police, I’m not on their radio’ in defeated tones. He’s out of the loop - a man who stepped outside his comfort zone and failed to capture the criminal.
Like many Coen Brothers films, this one has what some might deem an unsatisfying ending but it echoes this feeling of being adrift with a recollection of a dream he has about his late father. The obvious longing to be with a figure he much admired accentuates the idea of an existential helplessness in the face of that which he cannot understand – mindless killing. Although we don’t get a Hollywood-style resolution, we are certainly left with a pondering and poignant bewilderment, which is always good enough for me.
I am a little reluctant to mention the one criticism that I have of this film and I hasten to add that it may be because I sort of knew the ending already and had watched much of it before. However, I have to say that I don’t quite feel the wracking of tension that many people cite as a major strength of this film is all it’s cracked up to be. Cue: rotten tomatoes in my face. As I say, that may be circumstantial but I don’t think I really got that sense the first time either. Redeemably, there was one moment at the end that made me physically jump, which I always quite like. All in all, a very worthy Oscar-winner.