© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

No Country for Old Men
U.S.A. 2007

Opening 28 Feb 2008

Directed by: Ethan Coen
Writing credits: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Cormac McCarthy
Principal actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald

A deceptively quiet slide show of the hard, dry west Texas landscape launches No Country for Old Men, whose premise appears to be the "wild west" is more lawless than ever due to the nefarious businesses taking advantage of its wide open spaces.

Set in the 1980s, while hunting deer, Llewelyn Moss (James Brolin), local welder/Vietnam vet, happens upon the aftermath of a big heroin deal gone bad. He sees an opportunity in the two million dollars left by the dead men but becomes the hunted by both good and bad guys: respectively the aging, somewhat depressed local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) and the psychopath Chigurh (Javier Bardem), hired by the drug boss to retrieve the cash.

Director brothers Joel and Ethan Coen won the Golden Globe for best original screenplay based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy's book of the same name. It is obvious which of Llewelyn's pursuers fascinated them as violence overpowers any meat offered to a story-hungry audience. Unfortunately each shock of the innumerable scenes of immense cruelty and horror (albeit ingenious and creative) left me temporarily in a state of dumbed nerves, with not enough recovery time to take in the few remaining scenes of the sheriff's more human dilemma. In an interview Tommy Lee Jones recommended reading McCarthy's great novel before seeing the film. Maybe A Country for Old Men (excuse the mistake but that's the name it should have since everyone else is killed off) is successful as a documentation of the book. Whoever said a film must stand on its own?

The press packet mentioned the film's editor "began his career minding the tea cart at Shepperton Studios in the 1930s". Well, he must have identified too much with the film title, or was distracted as "the world's foremost collector of Margaret Thatcher nudes, many of them drawn from life", (now there's someone after my own heart).

Recommended only to those who have a high tolerance for violence. (Nancy Tilitz)

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