No Country for Old Men: A Review

The new mesmerizing thriller from the Coen Brothers, “No Country for Old Men”, is the first great movie that I have seen in 2007. It is the movie version of the novel by Cormac McCarthy, and it is insanely good. Other films were more enjoyable to me, like “Ratatouille”, but this film will become an American classic and definitely be nominated for several Oscars including “Best Picture”. This film was so gripping, so suspenseful and, frankly, disgusting at times, that I just wanted it to be over, but I mean that in the best way. The characters, the editing, the sound and the cinematography are so skillful that I wanted to be released from the evil that descended on this West Texas town.

The Coen Brothers, also the creators of “Fargo”, have made a masterpiece in this film about a mysterious murderer with a terrifying smile, played by Cholera’s Javier Bardem. Bardem’s character preys upon the towns of West Texas as he kills his victims with a cattle stungun. The main characters are played by Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Woody Harrelson. The editing and cinematography are so skillful that we feel his eerie presence, and several times I found my heart stopping in suspense.

McCarthy tells the story of lives and a place where the evils of greed and violence sweep the West Texas landscape like the wind that howls in the background throughout the film. At one point, the Sheriff, played pitch perfect by Tommy Lee Jones, says that he has waited his whole life for God to show up but that He never did. And God is obviously missing from this wind swept place where drug deals and savage murder have come to rule the day. I have spent five years of my life in West Texas, and this film depicts all of its beauty, its people and its lifestyle that is without a flaw.

Even hours after seeing the film, what remains with me is the dialogue It is some of the best dialogue and timing I have ever seen in a film. The dialogue between the murderer and the old Texas gentleman working at the store is perhaps the best I have ever seen in a film. First, these actors nail the West Texas accent and character so perfectly that it is impossible not to feel that they are the real thing. They also provide some humorous relief to what is otherwise a tense film. Second, what I love about this dialogue is not just what IS said … but what is NOT said … so that the dialogue is somewhat in our minds (“What he really means is …”) and not just in the words we hear. That’s brilliant writing, and the script I wrote in my own mind still won’t leave me.

I was glad when the two hours came to a close. I wanted out of this evil place to a place where God has become present and where this kind of evil finds its justice. Evil is never pleasant, and the scenes and the story of this film are not either. But it does show the truth of how greed can turn us into crazy people. If you can endure the unpleasantries, you may just see the best film of the year.

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