This Oscar winning film is based on an unusual 2005 novel by American author Cormac McCarthy and is very faithful to the book. Beautifully brought to life with stunning cinematography, inventive direction, some great set pieces and, for the most part, realistic acting. I say for the most part because the main villain, played by Javier Bardem (who also won an Oscar) is like a malevolent phantom; a creature of pure evil, more like the Devil than a person. His nightmarish performance is the best part of the movie - every time he is on screen he chills and fascinates in equal measure.
The film is a modern day Western, set in 1980 on the US / Mexico border with a plot so simple it's not worth mentioning. The action is viewed from the perspectives of the three main characters; the psycho Bardem, a world-weary (and philosophising) Sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones, and a man who gets himself into a heap of trouble, played by Josh Brolin. Although told at a slow pace, the first 2 thirds are very compelling, mostly due to the well-worked set-pieces and the ever-menacing presence of Bardem. The movie does however become ever more strange with a somewhat modernist attention to detail on small things, while the big events get glossed over. By the final third, it has become so interiorised that the action is threatening to cease at any moment. And in fact that's what it does. The film ends when you least expect it to. This has infuriated and baffled many, but, in restrospect, I feel it finishes at just the right time. It's in keeping with the real themes of the movie, which are not spelled out, (and it wouldn't be right for me to spell them out either).
If I had to compare this film to other Coen Bros films; the first two thirds are like Blood Simple and Fargo whereas the final third is more like Barton Fink (i.e a bad dream!). Not everybody's cup of tea, for sure, but like I said, I loved it.