Friday, May 2, 2008

No Country for Old Men

MUST-SEE: (Coen Brothers) Set in the dusty Southwest in 1980, this 4-time Oscar winning film about a psycho headhunter with a cattle gun for a weapon makes for one of the industry's creepiest projects and darkest yet. Starring Javier Bardem as a hired henchman to track down $2 million in drug money from un-expecting nobody, Josh Brolin's Llewellyn Moss, No Country for Old Men, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, is a story of corruption, obsession and fear mixed into one hard lesson of revelation and judgment. The film opens with a dramatic monologue from a loyal and veteran cop played by Tommy Lee Jones. As he drones on about his commitment to justice and to the community and the contrast his morals play against the fact that his career seems like game, we witness the arrest and escape of Anton Chigurh, a psycho with a cattle gun. He kills his arresting officer, then uses his car to pull someone over undercover. As a poor unsuspecting man climbs out of his car to face the charge, Chigurh raises the handle to his air tank, and points it at the man's forehead, at which point, he releases the air and watches the old man collapse to the ground, evidence-less and bleeding. Bardem's Anton then begins a journey of switching cars for bodies on the way to finding Moss and his drug money, and asking others to "call it" for their life, forcing them to choose heads or tails for the chance to survive. He appears to carry no conscience and no remorse, and his persona is decorated with a mop of a haircut and a coarse throaty accent. This man will haunt your dreams for days. I loved this film for its apt succession to maintain parallel between cinematography and mood. When things were fuzzy (morally and technically), the screen was consumed with dust, raw filming or darkness. The silence overwhelmed the feeling of solitude and impending paranoia. Amongst it all, blood, sweat and drug money, a beautiful story evolves. Don't take beautiful as flowery and whimsical, rather as a deep and compassionate commitment to the emotion that lies in the darkest parts of your heart. No Country for Old Men reveals the worst in people and the potential for corruption we assume everyone carries. As person after person drops dead, it seems McCarthy envisioned no happy ending for anyone, but as you watch the Coen’s illustration unfold, you see more than just a story of good versus evil, and instead, witness a breathtaking account of the possibilities you never saw coming and the person you had no idea you'd become. Definitely heed a warning that NCFOM holds back nothing and (seemingly) feels nothing. It is violent. It is tragic. And it could really happen (maybe). But don't skip out; because the Coen brothers truly bring the pages to life here, and let Hollywood succumb to genuine and unique motif.