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...
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3, review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton - really?
The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding