A review of “No Country for Old Men” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ****

Rating: R for language and very intense violence

Run Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes

 

 

          The Brothers Coen torch the big screen – again – with a western thriller saturated in carnage and character.

          Think West Texas circa 1980, an unyielding wasteland of desolation. Loveable loser Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is hunting antelope when he finds himself wrong place wrong time; in the middle of a shady drug deal gone bad. A ghostly tableau of stripped-down pick-ups, bullet-ridden point men, a stash of heroin and a satchel containing $2 million. Hello opportunity!

          But there’s a new law in town in the form of a homicidal psychopath sporting an unbecoming pageboy and wielding a killer cattle stun gun (Javier Bardem as chilling Anton Chigurh). The implacable Chigurh wants his cash back and will stop at absolutely nothing to get it.

          The third player in this captivating triad is world weary local sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) who slowly, laconically, puts the pieces together; a step behind but progressively gaining ground.

          An unlikely trio drawn together in a sinister roundelay of cat-and-mouse and hurtling towards a dramatic encounter with destiny.

          The Coens return to form, creating their most idiosyncratic characters since Steve Buscemi’s Carl Showalter faced down the wood chipper in “Fargo”. No one builds dread like the Brothers; it seeps from every frame and crests on a tidal wave of bloodlust.

          Bardem’s Chigurh is magnificently malevolent; out evil-ing the most notorious killers to grace the silver screen. Coldly calculating with a gruesome darkness in place of a soul. Brolin is vulnerable yet dedicated to his own strengths (as they are). Scripting is true to Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, hauntingly minimal but terse and effective.

          Mature, brilliant filmmaking at its finest.