You write the reviews
No Country For Old Men (15)
Monday 28 January 2008
After the disappointments of their last two outings, the duff screwball romcom Intolerable Cruelty and the lacklustre Ealing remake The Ladykillers, the Coen brothers are back with a triumphant return to form. No Country for Old Men, adapted from a novel by Cormac McCarthy, sees Joel and Ethan revisit the dusty Texan dawn of their debut, Blood Simple, for a brutal contemporary Western of true grit and impending doom.
Out hunting near the Rio Grande, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a Mexican heroin deal gone awry and a briefcase full of dirty cash. He takes the money and runs, but unleashes hell in the form of murderous pageboy Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), an indestructible sociopath who dogs his every step. The law is left in their wake, helplessly following a trail of meaningless slaughter and stolen trucks across the state from one motel to the next. Tired Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) wears a kindly smile that masks growing discomfort as he comes to realise that he no longer understands the border country he has patrolled and marshalled all his adult life.
The Coens have stripped aside almost all their trademarks to make a film more in line with McCarthy's stark apocalyptic vision. None of the actors here have been in a Coen brothers movie before; this is no country for their usual stock players such as John Turturro, Frances McDormand and John Goodman. One old man who does remain is their regular cinematographer, Roger Deakins, who beautifully captures a sun-bleached, wind-whipped desert landscape of dark skies and empty rooms, visually alien from all others in the Coens' oeuvre.
In terms of plot, however, one can see what first attracted the siblings to the novel. This is fundamentally a story about a man struggling to cope with the situation he finds himself in, aligning Llewelyn Moss with other Coen protagonists such as Nathan Arizona, Norville Barnes, Jerry Lundegaard and The Dude. Masculinity and its expression through explosions of desperate violence have always been staple themes in their work, and we find such incidents in spades here: Bardem's gas-powered cattle gun is as shockingly innovative a killing machine as the wood-chipper in Fargo.
And yet this is still very much a black comedy. Woody Harrelson's cameo as bounty hunter Carson Wells is a welcome turn and brings the film's funniest line. The scene in which the Bardem interrogates an elderly gas station attendant on the question of fate is also priceless. The Coens abide, and I take comfort in that.
Joe Sommerlad, Call-centre worker, Brill, Buckinghamshire
You write the reviews...
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
Laurie Lee's Rosie: What is it like to inspire a writer's work and be immortalised forever on the page?
Downton Abbey: Liam Neeson wants to be a stableman in period drama
The Walking Dead season 5 synopsis is full of spoilers and existential questions
Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver changes everything
Pharrell Williams says 'Blurred Lines' criticism is out of context
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter