No Country for Old Men


This is not a movie for the faint of heart. We saw it on New Year's day, 01-01-08, and it is certainly the best movie I have seen this year. Of course, it is the only movie so far, but it may well stay the best movie of the year.

The Coen brothers plan everything in detail. The wonderful scenes of Fargo were scripted and planned in great detail. So with this movie. The plot is familiar. Very similar to A Simple Plan from a few years ago. A guy finds the result of a drug deal gone bad. Everyone is dead and he takes the money (leaves the dope). Bad move. He compounds the bad move by going back to the scene of the crime and is detected by the baddie. And this bad dude is BAD. He, as the NY Times describes him, looks like "the lost Beatle from hell". Bad attitude, bad haircut. He chases the guy with the money and a local cop chases them both. People die. Lots of people die. And the ending is not at all what you expect.

But there are layers here. There is blood and violence, but most of the killings are off screen. We don't see the drug deal gone bad, just the aftermath. We don't see the hotel clerk get shot, we just see the results. In a way, the suspense is a like a Hitchcock movie, implied and slow to form. We know it is coming, but it is still a surprise, and not in the way of the horror movie, where the cat jumps out and scares the victim just before Freddy or Michael or whoever gets them.

Extremely well acted. This movie doesn't spell out everything. It takes some thought and a very close attention to detail to put everything together. At one point near the end of the movie the time frame jumps, possibly as much as several months, with no explanation. And you go away from the theater thinking about what happened. Like Fargo, like Memento, this movie needs a second viewing.