Texas, 1980. Out hunting antelope, Lewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon the gory aftermath of a drug deal and decides to make off with the cash. The decision transforms his life into a nightmare of pursuit, as he is hunted across country by the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) and remorseless assassin Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men is both a searing thriller and an elegy for a collapsing society.
Over the last few years, die-hard fans of the Coen brothers have worn out their pencils defending their increasingly mediocre output. While the sibling directors have never made a movie that’s actually bad, the mind-melting brilliance of Miller’s Crossing or The Big Lebowski seems like an awfully long time ago. Well, not any more. No Country For Old Men doesn’t require a defence: it is a magnificent return to form, transplanting the despairing nihilism and tar-black humour of Fargo to the arid plains of Blood Simple.
"RIVALS THE BEST OF HITCHCOCK"
McCarthy’s melancholic and muscular prose is a perfect match for the Coens’ unique brand of deadpan irony. No Country can be enjoyed as a straightforward genre thriller (and there are suspense sequences here that rival the best of Hitchcock) but it is worth digging a little deeper to expose the bedrock of aching sadness beneath the brutality. Performances are universally excellent, from Jones’s mournful drawl of narration to Bardem’s terrifying yet strangely hilarious assassin. Roger Deakins’ cinematography perfectly illuminates the beautiful and indifferent landscape. With No Country For Old Men, the Coen brothers have once again placed themselves at the very forefront of American cinema.
No Country For Old Men is out in the UK on 18th January 2008.