CRIME DRAMA; 2hr 2min
STARRING: Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem
Author Cormac McCarthy’s 2003 novel No Country for Old Men and film-makers Joel and Ethan Coen’s parchment-sharp approach make an ideal synergy. The Coen brothers’ spare, assured screenplay of McCarthy’s book starts out dramatic, with the discovery by Texas army veteran Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) of a slew of corpses, a cache of heroin and some $2 million in cash. It then gets busy as a chase movie, with drug kingpin Anton Chigurh (Bardem) and County Sheriff Bell (Jones) separately tracking down Moss.
Chigurh has the cold-blooded containment of a snake. Bell is a decent, seasoned guy. Moss is a victim of temptation, with keen instincts that might ensure his survival. Or maybe not.
For such a violent film, No Country is paradoxically thoughtful — and droll, too, at times — with chunks of action played out in a silence that suits both McCarthy’s contemplative style and the hefty themes it encompasses: the parameters of humanity, the sometime randomness of fate. It’s a contradiction in genre terms that makes perfect, intriguing sense.