Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WE FILM - No Country for Old Men

Starring Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones. Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald.

Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.
122 minutes. / 14A

This festering Western where hard men surrender soft values and morality is on the run.

Bardem's Anton Chigurh, chooses victims at random and decides their fate on a coin toss. He kills with a cattle stun gun and makes no difference how they die. He proceeds from a personal belief system, twisted by his view of a world that has lost all meaning. Chigurh is one of the most interesting screen villains in years.

Ed Tom Bell, the small-town West Texas sheriff, is played by Tommy Lee Jones,who sets the stage with a weary narration about changing times. Jones speaks of past days when violent crime wasn't the norm. Days when a sheriff didn't have to carry a gun, because even troublemakers respected the law.

Sheriff Bell is pondering retirement. He's chilled by these winds of change. You either stand against them or let yourself be flattened by them, but your soul remains in jeopardy regardless.

The movie is set in 1980, a pivotal moment of societal rot. A drug deal has gone sour. Bullet-ridden bodies lie in the hot sun.

Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) a Texas cowboy, doesn't plan to stick around to sort things out, especially when he discovers a briefcase containing $2 million. He's as stubborn as a raccoon. But deep down, a heart beats beneath his dirty shirt. He loves his devoted wife, Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) and he's capable of humanity but insists on carrying $2 million of somebody else's money, when more than one person is looking for it.

The familiar Coen humour is there but remains muted. The brothers are more intent on making a serious observation about the decline of the American spirit and a lament for the loss of common civility. No Country for Old Men may just be the year's best picture.

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