I'm not going to take the time right now to write a full review of No Country For Old Men, the latest film from the Coen Brothers which opens today. Suffice it to say, when I saw it at a New York Film Festival press screening last month, I was simply blown away. It is easily one of the best films of 2007, and it most certainly rivals Fargo -- in my book -- for the best of their work. In fact, I hesitate to say "rivals" instead of "surpasses."
Unlike many literary adaptations from books that interest me, I did not refrain from seeing the film until after reading Cormac McCarthy's novel, but since seeing the film, I am anxious to dig into its paper-based counterpart and source material. I'm going to refrain from writing in detail about the film until after I've had that literary comparison just because it's more fun for me that way. But regardless of how much I do or don't like McCarthy's novel, my love for this film.
No Country For Old Men has obviously stayed with me for quite a while. I'm always most fascinated by movies that take standard genre elements and then mix, merge and match in order to create something new. It's obviously something the Coens have been doing since their first three movies. Blood Simple, Raising Arizona and Miller's Crossing forcefully announced a duo with a unique and fascinating sensibility and imagination. Blood Simple was their take on noir, but it now also seems to be something akin to a scientific control: that one element that arguably can be found in all their work; an exploration of the darker sides of human character, even in their good guys. My favorite Clint Eastwood directing effort has always been The Unforgiven because of the masterly way he took the two most American of film genres -- film noir and the traditional Western -- and combined them into something utterly fresh and unique. While not a "traditional" Western nor noir in the least and taking plenty of cues from Hitchcock and other suspense traditions, No Country For Old Men signifies a similar achievement to me -- the pinnacle of what the Coens have been doing for nearly a quarter of a century now.
Go see it.