Last night I had the pleasure of attending an Image Film Club screening of the new Coen brother’s film “No Country for Old Men”. I highly recommend it,so for what its worth, here is a thumbnail review of my first thoughts after 12 hours of thinking about nothing else than this film,
In so many words, “creatively splattered blood within an intense triangle of characters and the study of good, not so good, and evil.” Suspenseful and uncompromising. The cinematography and art direction are amazing. Details reveal themselves in endless textures: the light over a motel at dusk, the internal glow of the highway sign tossing add hues across the parking lot. Extreme close-ups last forever, forcing you to examine not only the expression, but to trace the lines across the face and theorize where they came from and what they might mean.
The acting throughout added to the film’s excellence. Javier Bardem portrays the psychopathic killer with an intensity that grasps you tightly every time he is on screen (and even when he is not). Jones is perfect as the platitude-spouting sheriff, and Josh Brolin is totally believable as the blue collar “cowboy” who is the center of the film’s conflict. Even supporting roles are jewels to admire in their simplicity and tactile effect.
Set in Texas in the 80’s,a time frame that works because it takes you back to the place where phones had dials and were attached to walls and poles, where you had to wait for the operator to make a long distance call, and where mop-head haircuts and bell bottoms were still worn by a slice of rural America. Like Fargo, the particular phrasings of the west Texas setting make the dialog ring. “You can”t make up such a thing as that,” Sheriff Tommy Lee Jones” character declares, recalling a newspaper story of a bizarre crime in San Francisco. “I dare you to even try.” “It’s gittin” onto closing time, it is,” “You git on outa here, and don”t be thinkin” you can come back anytime soon.”
The Coens have found their way home in this incredibly memorable new film. Like Millers Crossing — and even Barton Fink — the brothers weave a simple story into a complex, thought provoking classic.