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.