Thursday, March 27, 2008

No Country For Old Men: No Stomach For Subtlety

Got a strong stomach for violence? If so, you will thoroughly enjoy this joyride. If not, you won't make it past the first minute and a half.

This is the first movie I have ever simulataneously loved and hated with equal fervor. Loved for it's phenomenal acting, tight pacing, and edge-of-your seat action and suspense. Hated for the way it seemed, in the end, to have dragged me all over for creation for no reason, with the most unsatisfying ending conceivable.

The plot is simple enough: a simple Texas welder finds a drug deal gone bad and a satchel full of money while out hunting on the prairie one morning. This is a movie, of course, and in movieland, no satchel of money ever comes without an accompanying bloodthirsty hit man, and justice-seeking lawman.

I have a short list of "favorite movie bad guys"- Bill "the Butcher" Cutting from "Gangs of New York", for example, or the bad guy to end all bad guys, Darth Vader. But Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh is really giving everyone on my list a run for their money. This guy was just cold and scary. He's even chilling while choking on a peanut in one scene. His performance alone made the movie worth sitting through.

Equally as satisfying were the other two main characters, played by Josh Brolin (the guy who finds the satchel) and Tommy Lee Jones (the sheriff who tries to make everything right.) Brolin's character might be an average Joe who stumbled onto some cash, but he's no fool, and his tough-as-nails character is the perfect savvy mouse to Bardem's ruthless, relentless cat. And Tommy Lee's Jones' portrayal of a tired old sheriff who really didn't need to have THIS little problem dropped on his doorstep at the sunset of his career is spot-on. And I also have to mention Kelly MacDonald's portrayal of Brolin's hick wife, whose performance is merely adequate, until you realize that MacDonald is Scottish; her west Texas accent is perfect!

Now as I said, I simultaneously love and hate this movie. And without spoiling the ending for you, let me just make a general statement about it: It sucks. From what I have heard, it's true to the book on which the movie is based. Whoop-de-freaking-doo. I echo the sentiments of a fellow movie-goer, who, in the moment of bewildered silence that immediately followed the start of the closing credits, incredulously excalaimed, "Oh, you've got to be freaking kidding me!"

So in the end, I can't give this movie more than an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Believe me, I really wish I could give it a ten, but I have to rate the whole thing, and I can't ignore that feeling of unsatisfied anger I had when I threw out my empty popcorn tub and left the cinema. So there you go; if you're not big on satisfying endings, and you can handle buckets-o'-blood, then this is the movie for you.

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