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Movie Review: No Country For Old Men

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Everyone I know loves No Country For Old Men. I even heard several people talk about how it is the best movie they have seen in years. I couldn’t disagree more. I actually hated the movie. But I also understand how it is a good movie all at the same time.

Let me start by saying I thought the actors are all great; the casting was spot on for this film. They deliver their lines in such a way that the movie brings to life Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same title. Tommy Lee Jones is able to deliver a performance with restrained emotion while still coming off as passionate. Each glance Javier Bardem makes adds to how creepy his character is – in fact he is perhaps the most evil man I have ever seen in a movie.

The cinematography is also something to be complimented. Each shot and display of color truly makes West Texas come alive. It emphasizes the size and dusty climate beautifully without going over the top. The camera work helps maintain the chase elements into what is ultimately a character driven story. And therein lies the rub.

I don’t like movies where nothing happens. If it is dialogue with nothing for me to grasp onto, I get bored. Don’t get me wrong, I like most of the Coen Brothers’ movies. In fact, I think I enjoy all of them but O Brother, Where Art Thou? and for many of the same reasons. Something about the story keeps the chase and thriller aspects under such constraint that it is as if nothing really happens. Sure, people are being murdered by an air compressor powered cattle stun gun, but in a way that fails to shock me. And perhaps the lack of shock is what makes Javier Bardem’s performance believable. The story manages to make action seemingly nothing and any build up of anxiety completely disappear. It fails to suck me in to care what happens to any of the characters. I neither want nor hope against what any of the characters are trying to accomplish.

This film confuses me in that I think it is great as a film but also find it to be absolutely boring. The problem for me is the story. All the cinematic elements are as perfect as anyone could have made it. The music, the editing, the directing is all spot on. I appreciate No Country For Old Men as a body of cinematic art but hope to never waste what to me feels like an eternity in watching it again. But then, I also don’t like any of Cormac McCarthy’s novels.

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  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=Vichus%20Smith V. Smith

    It doesn’t sound like you hated this movie. It sounds like it was disappointing because it did not take a direction that you would have liked. Hate is a strong word. I HATE Catwoman, starring Halle Berry. Not that’s proper usage. To me, hate should be reserved for a movie that fails in most or all aspects, from direction to acting to costuming.

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    The ending was a big disappointment for me. Otherwise, this film is great filmmaking, IMHO.

  • http://carapescado.blogspot.com Cara

    Great filmmaking, yes. As a consumer I hated it. As a filmmaker I can appreciate why others love it. I hated the novel so it would be next to impossible for me to like the movie as entertainment. You couldn’t pay me to watch it again but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand how so many other people like it so much. It’s an issue of personal taste more than anything.

  • http://www.themidnightcafe.org Mat Brewster

    I just watched this movie and I loved it. I’m not sure I understood it all, but nevertheless I loved it. I can understand how you might find it boring, but it was completely enthralling to me.

  • Liam Shannon

    I actually searched to find someone who also hated this movie. I saw it on the advice of a friend who tends to like good indie films and so I went really looking forward to it.

    I think it was awful! It reminded me of a cross between The Terminator and Brokeback mountain. Slow, gratuitously violent and going nowhere slowly. Although, unlike Brokeback, it didn’t even have an interesting character study. I too found completely uninvested in any of the characters.

    It was about as dramatically involving as 2 hours spent staring at the other people on a greyhound bus. Possibly interesting but without any craft, there is no story.

    I could go on and on but then I would be like this awful film…

    And don’t get me going on the ” air compressor powered cattle stun gun” … what a stupid device. It just reminded me of the silly movies where people shoot two guns at once with their arms crossed because people are no longer impressed by a single gun. It