Saturday, December 06, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007


It’s the Coen brothers, so it’s beautifully shot, and full of quirky but interesting characters; this time round they’re proper cowboys and Indians (well, Mexicans but close enough). Fairly early on in proceedings (about the time the guy starts shooting dogs) we agreed that it wasn’t a Debbie film. What surprised me, by the end I had decided that it wasn’t a James film. I will explain my reasons, but I warn you they might be misinterpreted to create the impression that I’m low brow, stupid even. Far from that being the case, I am as highbrow as Stephen Fry without an anus.

With that mental image always close at hand, let us continue. When we watch a film it is often a give and take process, we suspend our disbelief and they give us a satisfying but generally absurd experience. Now, this is of course not always the case, and there is a valid and growing subset of movies concerned with a couple of hours where nothing much really happens, y’know, just like life. Mutual Appreciation is a very good example of this. But No Country for Old Men isn’t. Rather a lot happens, mainly involving men ending the lives of other men using firearms or vacuum cleaners.

And that of course is fine. Movies where lots of people kill other people, movies where one guy takes on rooms full of slightly sweatier men with semi automatics and comes out unscathed, I love movies like that. Every bullet that whizzes past as our protagonist does a forward roly poly to the scant cover of a hotel bed makes you feel a little bit invulnerable. So it hummed along perfectly nicely until it suddenly decided to be inconsequential, unresolved and unsatisfying, y’know, just like life.

But it hadn’t been like life up until then, and the sudden change of tone was jarring, annoying even. After all that crossfire foreplay we want the money shot, the hero and the villain, the showdown, the kiss and the sunset. What we get is an old guy having some dinner with his wife. It’s like at the climactic point of a porn film the couple (or group, or menagerie) just stop doing it and start playing Mario Kart. Which is probably artistically valid and clever but leaves you frustrated and tugging desperately at your drooping member (I hope you’re still remembering Fry and his lack of anus).

Maybe I’m being shallow in desiring traditional resolution, or maybe I’m just annoyed because I got confused and had meant to order There Will Be Blood from Lovefilm (though to be fair there was quite a bit of blood). What I definitely am is disappointed by this whorish tease of a movie.


Buy No Country For Old Men [2007] on DVD from Amazon now!

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