Movie Review: No Country for Old Men

Dennis suggests No Country for Old Men (in Mystery/Thriller).  I remember thinking, after finishing Cormac McCarthy’s book, ‘This is going to make an all-time classic movie someday; as long as they don’t hire an idiot to direct it.’  Well, the ‘they’ hired the Coen Brothers- two geniuses instead of one idiot- and, hey lookit that…an all-time classic film, one that will be thought as highly of twenty years from now.  Now, I have to admit, I had some reservations when I heard about the people involved: for one, the Coen’s had been in what for them counts as a slump for a few years (The LadykillersIntolerable Cruelty?), and I worried (‘cause that’s what I do) if their string of recent subpar outings indicated the beginning of a gradual decline, rather than a simple hiccup.  I also worried that their stylistic tendencies, so potent in their own work, would diminish the sparse power of the book.

Verdict: no sweat.  The Coens stuck very close to the tone of the book, and created a more straightforward film of it than I thought they would.  Secondly: the casting.  While I was rightly confident in the choice of the ever-magnetic and brilliant Javier Bardem as the indelible villain-for-the-ages Anton Chigurh, I was concerned, for completely different reasons about the other two leads.  As taciturn, relentless Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, I thought that picking Tommy Lee Jones was too on the nose; like something Jones could do in his sleep.  I found myself thinking that the Coen’s should have gone further afield and found someone less…perfect for the role, as weird as that sounds.  And, as for Josh Brolin as the surprisingly-formidable everyman Llewelyn Moss, well, has anyone ever been impressed with the blandly handsome Brolin in anything (I mean, The Goonies was fun when I was eleven, but…).

Verdict:  I should just stop worrying so much.  As the three similarly-dogged, determined, different men, each of the actors puts in career-retrospective work and creates a truly memorable character.  Jones was ‘too perfect’ in my head because he was, well,  perfect for the role, and I should just stop overthinking everything.  And Brolin, as the protagonist at the center of it all, is a revelation, inhabiting his character far and beyond anything I could have hoped for.  If he never does anything this good again (and, frankly, I don’t think he will), he gets my respect.  So, my concerns were unfounded, the film is a classic, and, to those who don’t like the ending, well, Rambo is right over yonder…

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Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 1:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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