Wednesday, March 24, 2010
FILM #9: No Country for Old Men (2007)
Adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel, the film settles into its 1980 West Texas landscape poetically and, in the form of the local sheriff, Ed Tom Bell (the ever solid Tommy Lee Jones) philosophically. Brilliantly directed by the Coen brothers (Joel & Ethan), ‘No Country for Old Men’ is a thrilling expose on the changing value of violence and the slow realization of such. The attention to detail is sheer poetic and, like the film itself, volatile: Chigurh shoots Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson) while the telephone rings and then speaks to Moss mindful to lift his legs as Wells’ blood spreads thickly on the floor. The beauty of the film though lies in its conviction that one repudiates violence at one’s own peril and that we have to acknowledge its presence as a way of life. Sheriff Bell realizes the enormity that faces him and has no option but to admit openly that the level of crime is beyond his handling. Chigurh is the killer of a new time, one that can walk away unscathed to fight new battles or at least pay his way out of complicity. He, not the law, is the one with his hand on the pulse of this new world. That makes ‘No Country for Old Men’ frighteningly real and a modernistic take on the evolutionary process of crime that will likely smudge our paranoid lives, one way or the other.