Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Movie Review: No Country for Old Men

Suggested Alternate Title: Ninja with a Bad Haircut

Somewhat Like: A History of Violence, A Simple Plan, Kill Bill (if you can picture Uma Thurman as a European guy with an extremely bad haircut), Fargo (only not a comedy, and with miles of dessicated desert instead of miles of snow), a Coyote & Roadrunner cartoon (if Wile E. Coyote was an utter psychopath and had weaponry that actually worked)

Summary: I confess I haven't read any Cormac McCarthy, so I can't give my opinion on how this stands up to the book. It piqued my interest, though.

Blue-collar Texan Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles across the scene of a drug massacre in the desert and discovers a caseful of cash. Problem: The most insanely driven villain in modern movie history (with the worst haircut in modern movie history), Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem, also star of Love in the Time of Cholera), knows he has it. And he's not a guy who can be deterred. Chigurh also has - how shall I put it? - a creative way of dispatching people.

Leaving a considerable body count in their wake, these supremely stubborn men chase each other across deserts and international borders, hole up in motels that look like portals to hell, and rig up groovy McGuyver-like gizmos (they're resourceful, those Texans!). Sheriff Ed Bell (Tommy Lee Jones in perhaps his best performance) grapples with the case as well as with the brutality of the desert and the brutality of man. As in Fargo, by the end of the chase you have to wonder if "a little bit of money" could possibly have been worth it all.

Upsides: The Coen brothers! Nearly flawless bare-bones storytelling, and flashes of wicked dark humor leaven the heart-squeezing suspense

Downsides: Do sharp-as-nails lawmen really trample all over crime scenes with horses? 'Cause if they do, um, maybe they shouldn't?

Chigurh's haircut makes him look like some kinda deranged cross between Emo Philips and Prince Valiant, but it works.

Final Conclusion: In the hands of even a mediocre director, this movie would fall flat on its face. Thank God it wasn't in those hands. Not exactly rich in dialogue and very violent and gory, No Country for Old Men is brilliant and heady stuff if you can stomach it.

P.S.: Did I mention Chigurh has a really bad haircut?


Karen said...

Chigurh's haircut makes him look like some kinda deranged cross between Emo Philips and Prince Valiant, but it works.

That's too funny!!! You summed it up perfectly. I tried to read McCarthy's Blood Meridian but just couldn't do it. This looks fantastic - and the previews, along with your review, makes me want to jump up and go out and see it now!

tshsmom said...

Out of all the movies you mentioned in this post, the only one I enjoyed was A History of Violence. A Simple Plan was just plain STUPID, and you already know what I think of Fargo. NO, I don't have a MN accent!

Yeah, I'm gonna run right out and view this flick.....NOT! ;)

SME said...

I'm wondering which McCarthy book I should read first. Folks seem to either love him or hate him, but I bet there's a "gateway" book that his fans would recommend to newbies. Like "never read Gravity's Rainbow before The Crying of Lot 49".

I actually didn't like A Simple Plan much either, but the finding-scads-of-cash-in-a-weird-place scenario reminded me of it. Yup, Mom, you would loathe this movie...the suspense alone would annoy the hell out of you!

The Zombieslayer said...

I didn't realize this was Coen brothers. I'll have to see it then.