Manuel Betancourt

No Country for Old Men, or How the NBR Winner delivers

December 6, 2007 · in Uncategorized

The National Board of Review released its winners yesterday and named No Country for Old Men the Best Picture for 2007. After watching it, I can’t really think of reasons why they wouldn’t have.
The new Coens Bros movie, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel by the same name is a great movie (if only for that ending that has kept critics talking ever since it came out – who needs closure these days anyways, right? Okay maybe some of us do…)
The cat and mouse scenario that plays itself out between Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh and Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time. Never will I be able to look at a male bob the same way. But Bardem is scarier than his haircut. His psychopathic Chigurh is a deadly weapon who only knows, enjoys and breathes through killing and has seemingly only one purpose in life: getting the satchel of money Llewelyn finds at the beginning of the movie. It comes as no surprise that the movie loses some of its rhythm when we lose Bardem and instead move into an unfamiliar domesticity at the end of the film.
Laconic in style as well as in its dialogue (most of the film plunges the audience into great lapses of silence), the film succeeds (and its best moments exemplify this) because it works within, stretches and narrows down on moments of painful tension against a gritty and gory West Texan background: an awkward conversation at a gas station where a coin toss could mean everything… or nothing; a ‘negotiation’ at a motel where a phone ringing feels like a thunder clap; an inconclusive domestic epilogue; the opening of a motel door…
Superbly acted and perfectly shot (Roger Deakins’ cinematography is worth remarking on) No Country for Old Men is worth watching if only to see one of the greatest villains to ever scorch the screen: I mean, when your first appearance involves a crazed suffocating-a-cop-with-handcuffs scene, you know you’re in for a ride you won’t forget. And Bardem’s icy gazes and methodical gestures (with what aplomb he gives us one of the most asexual nude scenes I’ve ever seen) stay with you for a while after the silent credits start rolling and have left you with a myriad of questions and a sense of awkward closure that more often than not results in nervous laughter.