film review: No Country For Old Men (2007)

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film review: No Country For Old Men (2007)

No Country For Old Men is the new film from the OscarĀ©-winning cult directors Joel and Ethan Coen. Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, No Country For Old Men follows the chase as a quiet man is thrown into the path of drug dealers and hired killers by a chance discovery.

On the whole I enjoyed No Country For Old Men. I thought the plot was interesting, the cinematography was excellent and the acting was very accomplished – strong performances all round. However, ultimately I found it somewhat unsatisfying and there were really two reasons for this…

The first of which is mainly a matter of taste. I enjoy a wide range of films however for a film to really stand out for me there has to have been a reason it was a film. I mean this is in the sense that I have to feel like I couldn’t have just read the book and felt the same. Now obviously this film was a book adaptation so it was always going to be primarily narrative and possibly this meant that I was never going to feel that it was brilliant… However, I think the best adaptations from books/short stories don’t simply tell the tale, they make full use of the added visual and aural elements to connect us to that story – take the scene in The Shawshank Redemption when the music is played out across prison – if you simply read that scene in a book it wouldn’t be the same. While the Coen Brothers showed us beautiful landscapes but I’m just not sure that it really added that much to the overall feeling of the film.

The second reason that is that I didn’t really feel a connection with the characters and I am firmly of the opinion that it’s the film-makers job to make me feel that connection. I was interested in what they were up to but for me it didn’t really matter what happened to them. I was engaged by the story, by the the cat and mouse chase, however it was like watching a cat chase a mouse… I didn’t care how it ended.

But I’m being overly critical of the film. It was a very good film, it’s won awards and it will undoubtedly win some more. It really did have a lot going for it, I appreciated its look at fate, chance and choice – Was the ending inevitable, perhaps? Is Chigurh purely evil? Does he make the choice to… not make the choice as it were? It made it interesting, something different from your usual drama, I suppose those situations are not unfamiliar territory for the Coens however that’s a good thing, it sets them apart from other directors. Also as I mentioned earlier, the performances were excellent, as you’d expect from such a lauded cast. I’ll give it a 7.5 out of 10 but for me it just wasn’t a classic film.


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