Sunday, 24 February 2008

No Country For Old Men - Ethan/Joel Coen (2008)

A brutal eclipse of modern-day crime-thrillers, Ethan and Joel Coens 'No Country For Old Men' paints a disturbingly violent and beautiful image of the developing slippery slope in which society is slowly falling down.

Starting with visually stunning shots of the baron landscape which becomes a staple of the whole film, the Coen's quickly and vividly materialize 'No Country For Old Men' into one of the most tense and suspenseful films of the last ten years. It quickly advances into a vicious chase across Texas as the deviously psychotic hired-hand in Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) attempts to track down Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a back-ward country boy who happened to stumble upon a Mexican drug deal gone bad and help himself to the $2.4million left in the dying hands of the ‘last hombre standing’, which sets into motion a series of unstoppable and deadly events of which gives ageing Sherriff Tom Ed Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) a chance to reflect upon what he's doing and who in today's modern world, he's facing.

From the moment Tommy Lee Jones mutters "I've been a Sherriff of this town for twenty-five years" to his final profound epilogue at the end of the film, the acting throughout is sustained at a very high rate. Javier Bardem in particular, is fantastic as the psychotic, no-nonsense, pure incarnation of evil; hired-hitman Anton Chigurh (however he does have principles in a very funny sort of way...). Every time Bardem is on-screen, his presence radiates throughout the whole film as you know that death is just around corner, while Brolin plays his counter-part to-a-tee, a fearless redneck living out in the desert sands of Texan outback, who is willing to fight Chigurh and the Mexicans to the last-strands of death for the drug money, and is willing to put his wife, the delectable Kelly MacDonald, in the firing line of those around him too.

Roger Deakins beautiful cinematography, of the baron wasteland which all the events of the film are laid out, supports Cormac McCarthy's adapted novel brilliantly. The Coen's decision to adapt the novel, with little-to-no tinkering allowed the full beauty of such a deep and thought-fuelled novel to come to life in only the way in which Ethan and Joel Coen could. In an age of CGI and 'green scenes', it's nice to see such an articulated film that ticks every single box for the basic fundamentals of film-making and in such a thought-provoking way too. 'No Country' throws you in at the moral and ethical deep-end and with no back-story, asks you to make a decision, and it’s the Coens finest film to date.