25 of 33 people found the following review helpful
No Country for Impatient Audiences,
This review is from: No Country For Old Men [DVD] (DVD)
Finally a film that knocks for six the idea that all American Southerners are hick idiots. Here we are presented with cunning, intelligent and skilled everymen with not a buck toothed, gun toting red neck in sight. The Coens deliver their finest masterpiece in the stylings, or is that musings(?), of their classic debut "Blood Simple." The characters that operate within their western bred reality all run on instinct and criss-cross paths until the inevitable, bloody denuemonet, yet as the Brothers `Grimm' often do so well, all the genre conventions and cliches are expertly overturned and reinvigorated by their scripting smarts and visual flair.
This is a beautiful looking, intelligently written and masterfully paced modern classic, the hype from critics around the world is certainly justified in every respect. The slow build suspense simply drips with atmosphere and a sombre foreboding not seen since "Fargo."
The simplistic plot is paradoxically quite complex, especially in the second act, the Coens showing a consistent and remarkable talent for proving that its not the tale itself that entertains, but it's how you tell the tale. It's all about the details. "No Country for Old Men," is laced with wry comic moments that add colour and shading to the characters and story without deflating the drip-feed tension. The dialogue is deceptively effortless, yet highlights how much careful consideration the Coens put into every single line of their wonderful prose.
And the performances! Wow! Rarely can it be said that a movie has no weaknesses in the ensemble chain, but here we get three particularly brilliant, yet extraordinarily different lead performances. Josh Brolin is back on the radar and turns in his finest piece of thesping to date, using the silence and his lack of dialogue to tell us more about Llwelyn Moss than a thousand words ever could. Tommy Lee Jones, ever the veteran, is remarkably understated, showing the restraint and consideration that can only be found with a seasoned pro. But the real kudos must go Javier Bardem. He quite possibly pulls off the performance of the year, and I mean hands down. And remember this is the man who stole a whole movie from under Tom Cruise and Jaime Foxx's noses with one single scene in "Collateral." He is a revelation, personifying pure, unrelenting evil and becoming an adversary even "The Terminator" would have nightmares about. A scene in which he shares with a Gas station clerk is so unnerving and so disquietingly amusing it ranks as one of the best scenes in the film and of the Coen Brothers' long career. If Bardem doesn't get a best supporting Oscar nod for this then there will be blood running in the streets. On top of that trio of marvellous and quite frankly faultless actors, we have Kelly MacDonald, the sexy Scott whose Texan accent is so convincing, I think America might have to adopt her as their own, and Woody Harrelson provides solid, controlled support.
There is no music. Everything is delivered through sound and silence, which conjures a menacing atmosphere familiar to fans of the early Coen days with "Blood Simple." The soundtrack creates a genuine ambience most filmmakers can only dream of invoking proving definitively that silence is golden. And when things do begin to heat up with the stakes constantly rising and confounding expectations (a common trick the Brothers employ) we are treated to some of the most wryly smart dialogue of recent years, while some subtle symbolism, usually evident in most westerns, takes on a mythic dimension in this magnificent motion picture. Occasionally the visuals become almost surreal, gaining a uniquely abstract quality to the action (a bonafide Coen Bros trait). It's very rare I see a film these days that I can immediately trump as a modern classic whilst it unfolds on the screen, even the Coens' last three or so films have been decidedly unworthy of their skills, but "No Country for Old Men," takes the western, the black comedy, the chase thriller and wraps them up into one, sharp, dark and thrilling feast for the eyes. And as for the final twenty minutes (the much debated "bad" third act), it goes to show how modern audiences are so dangerously addicted to being hand-fed climaxes with their blockbuster cereals. "No Country..." says no to all that jazz and instead usurps convention, denies confrontation, confounds expectation and much as the Coens proved with "Barton Fink" demands that the audience accept the ambiguity and denied catharsis as a pro, not a con. I think it is pure genius to undermine and override the western genere cliches. It is not a cheat, but a fresh perspective on an old narrative concept. Kudos to them for having the moxy to do it. Kudos.
Plenty of symbolism, witty dialogue, gripping performances from a faultless cast, a slow burn pace punctuated by bursts of terrifying suspense, and some funny asides that diminish nothing of the intense material on display. Lots of dead dogs too. A masterpiece without exception and probably the best American movie of 2007.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Apr 2008 23:36:05 BDT
Mr. S. J. Downing says:
Great review m8. Who are these doofuses saying it was 'unhelpful'? Too many big words?
Posted on 31 May 2008 17:44:10 BDT
J. Terry says:
Great review thanks :)
Posted on 11 Jun 2008 11:38:44 BDT
Alan Cook says:
I don't often comment on a review, or even a movie, but your words and opinion were spot on, entertaining and very easy to read. Great film, great review. Thank you.
In reply to an earlier post on 26 Dec 2008 20:21:43 GMT
F. Mugavero says:
Fantastic review! You expressed my feelings better than I ever could. Well done.
Posted on 30 Dec 2008 18:10:55 GMT
Mr. Laurence Williams says:
An interesting review Louis, but from the slant of your comments about the story and dialogue you seem to be ignorant of the fact that the film is based on (and very accurately reflects) a novel of the same name written by American author Cormac McCarthy.
I think he should at least share the credit for most of the good things in this film !
Posted on 15 Mar 2010 18:38:20 GMT
killer tomato says:
I also love this film,but the ending has always been a dissapointment to me.
But after reading your review,I now understand.You must have some jedi mind thing going on.
I think I'm falling in love with you...:)
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