Friday, January 18, 2008

Review of No Country for Old Men

Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men comes with an impeccable pedigree. Not only that, No Country for Old Men has been highly praised by critics and was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, winning two of them. Javier Bardem won Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture and the Coen Brothers won for Best Screenplay.

With all that, I (surprising) find myself wondering, "Why the hell the nominations?" It's a good film with solid acting (Josh Brolin & Kelly Macdonald were very good) but...something was missing.

The film start simple enough. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is introduced as he strangles a police deputy, escape custody, and then steal a car after killing the car's driver. At the same time, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), comes across some abandoned cars in the middle of the desert, with a collection of corpses in them. Only one dying Mexican is alive. Moss quickly found out he had stumbled onto the aftermath of a drug deal gone sour. He also finds two million dollars in a suitcase and leaves with it. Later that night, Moss has an attack of conscience and returns with water for the dying man. The Mexican was dead already and Moss was discovered. Moss starts running and this sets off a cat-and-mouse game as a gang of the Mexicans, Moss, Chigurh, and the police as they chase each other for the money across Texas and Mexico.

Like I said earlier, No Country for Old Men is solid. It is well-directed, well-acted with solid production values. But I couldn't like it.

The main reason I believed was the story. The film is spilt in 2. The first part is mostly on Moss, and 2/3 of the movie in, the main character became Tommy Lee Jones' sheriff character, Ed Tom Bell. I don't know if this was the director's intentions, or because that is the way it is in the novel, but at times I felt that I was watching 2 movies mashed together. The 2 parts hardly join at all and I found that very hard to accept.

However the acting from the stellar cast saved the day. Watch it for the fine acting if nothing else, but it is a flawed movie.

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