I wanted to take this opportunity to kick off what hopefully will be the first of many reviews of the latest movies for our Flickchart Blog with one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films, “No Country For Old Men“.
The latest film from the Coen Brothers marks its place by accomplishing what few films can – making a great movie by disappointing the viewer with every resolution. This is not to say that it isn’t a fantastic achievement, in fact it’s quite the opposite. “No Country For Old Men” allows you to only predict what you think will become of the incredibly well-realized and detailed characters. It sets the scene with deliberate pace as Llewelyn Moss (ex-Goonie Josh Brolin) happens upon a drug deal gone wrong and unwisely makes the choice to take home the leftover spoils. This sets in motion a series of unwise choices that leaves him running from the year’s most brutal and ruthless bounty hunter Anton Chigurh (played by the scene-stealing Javier Bardem, whose choice of weapon will be forever injected into cult stardom).
Along the way, Tommy Lee Jones plays the same role we’ve seen countless times (The Fugitive, Men in Black, U.S. Marshals, The Hunted, Natural Born Killers, etc.) of the aging lawman Ed Tom Bell trying to save the day and catch both men before everything is torn up in their path. Although Jones’s character has hardly changed throughout his career, he still manages to keep you rooted to the realism of the story and every wrinkle in his aging face lends itself well to his place in the modern Western setting of the film. The only underdeveloped part was filled by Woody “High Times” Harrelson as an all-too brief clean-up man working for the “client” to take care of the mess Chigurh leaves behind.
The number one complaint of anyone who sees this movie will be its ending – and while avoiding spoilers – its safe to say most people will leave wanting more and desperately seeking closure. This movie is guaranteed to trick you several times by almost entirely avoiding cliches and never once becoming predictable. There are wonderfully played out thriller scenes that are as tense as any horror film of late. Many scenes throughout cause you to question who you’re rooting for to win between the three men as they slip by one another. The film’s best moments are its quiet ones with focus on the minute details that other films often have difficulty translating from novel to screen. The Coens masterfully frame and give time to these instances so that you can soak in the mood and atmosphere completely.
It’s a film I’m glad to have seen, but will end up sitting alongside films like Requiem for a Dream and Schindler’s List as “Movies Not To Watch Again For A Long While“. It leaves you with something – something that you’re not sure how to take in, or how to feel about. But at the very least, it gives you a sense of time and place that few films deliver.
Where would I predict this movie to end up on my list? Top 20? Not a chance. Top 250? It’s possible. Top 500? Almost guaranteed.
At some point in the future, we’ll start doing more deep-linking of these reviews into Flickchart to help guide you towards finding out more information about the films we discuss. Our hope as well is to allow you to jump directly from any review to say that you have both seen it, and allow you to rank it against other films out in theaters. Hopefully our proper public launch will kick off at some point before 2008. We’ve got a lot of really cool things to come and we’re working hard to get as much of the initial functionality prepared before we let you all see what we’ve been cooking up.