Thursday, November 29, 2007

No Country for Old Men: Movie Review

This movie is two hours long.

For two hours, I believed I was watching the best Coen brothers film yet. They expertly build suspense, leaving the viewer in a constant state of simultaneous discomfort and excitement. The characters are what really separates this film, however, with a tremendous performance by Tommy Lee Jones putting a human face on all the wreckage left in the wake of the Psycho Bad Guy.

For two hours, I was nearly on the edge of my seat with anticipation. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next, to learn just how this dramatic conflict was going to be resolved.

And then the credits rolled.

The first words out of my mouth were, predictably, "What the fuck?"

The first two characters to appear in the film are the Psycho Bad Guy and the Normal Country Boy Who Finds a Bag of Money. You've seen these characters before, though admittedly with less flair, but there are no surprises here. The Country Boy is a southern ex-military/hunter good ol' boy who knows how to handle a weapon. The Bad Guy kills just about everyone he meets, while inexplicably allowing a few lucky ones to live.

They move relentlessly toward a violent confrontation, all the while pursued by the sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) who hopes to stave off further bloodshed. As the movie draws to a close, all three characters approach the same motel in El Paso, and the pent-up suspense is like a painful gas bubble in your stomach just aching to be relieved in one direction or another.

The sheriff arrives at said motel to find the body of one of the main characters. He missed the confrontation, and apparently, so did I. And just when you've become convinced that there simply must be a devious plot twist about to be revealed, the screen goes black and the credits roll and you're left wondering where the fuck your $8.50 went.

I'm sure the Coen brothers were deliberately making a statement by avoiding a final confrontation. But whatever that statement is, I'd like to turn it sideways and shove it up their asses. I don't appreciate sitting through two hours of deftly crafted suspense for absolutely no payoff. If you want to pat yourselves on the back for defying convention, if you want to yank the chains of the pretentious dickwads at the Cannes Film Festival, go for it...but don't expect me to ever again fork over money to watch some empty, unresolved string of violence leading to nothing.


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