Movie Review: No Country For Old Men

January 4th, 2008

No Country For Old Men.

Directed by Ethan & Joel Coen. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin.

In West Texas, June 1980, a drug deal has just gone very badly wrong. A case containing two million dollars ends up in the hands of Llewlyn Moss (Brolin) when he comes across the aftermath. He soon finds himself being chased not only by the mexican drug dealers, but by shadowy psychopath Anton Chigurh (Bardem), who is not afraid to leave a trail of bodies behind while chasing the money. Following all this is Sheriff Bell (Jones), trying to save Moss from his one bad decision.

The Coen brothers have produced some marvelous films over the years: Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Miller’s Crossing, The Hudsucker Proxy. But No Country is without question their finest work to date, and already one of the classics of cinema. The film is intensely visual, relying on the sweeping panoramas of desolate West Texas to tell part of the story. The dialogue is generally sparse, and much of the plot is told through the screen rather than the soundtrack. The acting is superb, with Javier Bardem’s chilling psychopath and Tommy Lee Jones’ desperate laconicism the standout performances. But Woody Harrelson turns in a great cameo, and Kelly Macdonald (as Moss’s wife) has a great scene towards the very end of the film. Inevitably this film will attract comparison with Fargo, with its own case full of money, but this is a far deeper, more downbeat piece than Fargo. And ultimately a (slightly) better film than the Coen’s previous masterwork.