Nov 21, 2008

No Country for Old Men (DVD)

Rating: What the hell?

Okay, the lesson I am repeatedly failing to learn, it would seem, is, "ignore the hype."

While I'll admit there was some good acting on the part of Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin, and that the first two acts were very tense and interesting, I pretty much hate this movie.

I'll warn you now: If you haven't seen it, don't read any further.

Seriously. I'm spoiling shit in a minute.

You sure?


I know that I'll inevitably hear that it's, "more about characters than plot," or that it "defies convention," but the fact of the matter is that it kills the ostensible protagonist off-screen without giving us any indication that that's what's happening. What?

I mean, seriously, we see Moss (Brolin) standing around a pool getting hit on by some woman and the next time we see him, he's been machinegunned by the drug dealers. That's it.

How is that dramatic? How is that anything but annoying?

"Oh, the tragedies of life! There are no clean getaways! Blah blah blah."

Fuck that. If you're gonna kill a major character, I want to see it happen.

Well, surely there must be something else that happens at the end of the movie, right?

Eh. Bardem shows up and caps Mrs. Moss, as we pretty much figured he would. Then he gets into a car wreck, breaks his arm, and limps away. As far as I can tell with my unsophisticated pedestrian tastes, this has fuck-all to do with anything else in the movie.

"He's a force of nature! He symbolizes destruction that can't be stopped!"

No, he's a talented psychopath with a high pain threshold.

Oh, and Tommy Lee Jones talks about a dream he had.


I love the Coens. I like dark movies with troubling endings. I like very black comedy.

This movie had all of those things, and yet it did nothing for me.

Bardem is good, but Anton Chigurh's basically just Hannibal Lecter with better table manners and a bad haircut. He's scary and he's badass, but that's it. And, honestly, most of his best scenes were in the various trailers and previews.

Woody Harrelson is either miscast or badly written. His character seems to know how dangerous Chigurh is, but is totally cocky and confident that he can out-do him. But, based on how clearly he knows he's fucked as soon as he sees Chigurh, he only reasonable response he could have had would have been to turn down any job involving coming into contact with him in the first place. For a guy who's supposed to be a sharp, keenly analytical thinker, he's pretty stupid.

Tommy Lee Jones never shares a scene with any of the other major characters, so he's kind of just a commentary on the story. The violent things he sees disturb him, but there isn't a lot of story to his story. When he visits a disabled former deputy who worked for his father, he's reminded that quitting, just because he can't change the world, is vanity, but he quits anyway. It's well-done, but where's the story in that?

Josh Brolin has the toughest part in the movie, I'd say, and he does very well, but of course he gets robbed of the one scene you're waiting to see: his death. Moss also never comes face-to-face with Chigurh at all, so their only real confrontations are shooting at each other from a distance and growling at each other on the phone.

I wanted to see Moss live or die. I wanted to see him kill Chigurh or fail to kill him. I wanted to see something, anything other than a long-distance shot of some drug dealers driving away after killing him while we were watching Tommy Lee Jones drive a truck.

I wanted a lot of things, and ended up at roll credits with very little.

1 comment:

carole* said...

That's a pretty astute analysis for someone who (however disingenuously) calls his taste "pedestrian" and "unsophisticated". Thanks, Morgue, for validating my decision to stay the hell away from that film.