Sunday, December 02, 2007

No Country for Old Men

Being a big fan of the Coen Brothers, I had to go see No Country for Old Men. The critics were raving, which usually means I'm setting myself up for disappointment. Not this time. There are plenty of reviews with exquisite detail lauding the performances, the Hitchcock-level tension, the haunting personification of pure evil and the masterful use of sound. I agree, concur and redundantly acclaim “Here here!”

Yet for me the overpowering impact of the film was the message, delivered in naked truth by the lives and fates of the characters, but also in the faithful lifting of dialogue from the Cormac McCarthy novel upon which the movie was based. Tommy Lee Jones as narrator and grizzled, philosophical sheriff has seen the tide of evil pound the shores of his world in bigger and ever more powerful waves. One can speculate on the reasons as a source of conversation and commiseration, but that hardly matters because the condition is inexorable. Despite what we want to believe through more traditional Hollywood fare, in this brutal and unsympathetic reality, power and viciousness trump honor and good intentions. You can’t expect fairness or just desserts. Only dumb luck sometimes, and sometimes not.

This is a world with no tidy answers; and a story with no happy ending, in fact, no ending at all. And if you didn’t bring a moral coming in, don’t expect to leave with one.

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