Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No Country for Old Men

By Reymundo Salao

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN follows the story of three men, Llewelyn Moss, who stumbles upon a number of dead bodies, an aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong, finds and takes with him a big bag of money left by the dead dealers, never realizing that this will lead him to be hunted by a criminal syndicate. Then there is Anton Chigurh, a humorless, cold-blooded assassin (not to mention, psychopathic killer) who is seeking to retrieve the money and kill the one who has it. The third character, The Sheriff, Ed Tom Bell, is the one who is investigating the series of deaths that has been occurring in his town.

Starting off with the great points of this movie is the fact that this starts out as not your typical Oscar movie borefest. This is straight-up action thriller that starts with the bad guy killing off two victims and quickly establishes himself as one of the most wicked and most frightening villains in the silver screen. The film then goes into a noir-ish, suspenseful trip of cat-and-mouse chases between the hunter and the hunted. But just when you were about to announce to yourself that this is the best crime thriller you've ever seen, it starts to get excruciatingly dull.

I wish I could join all the other so-called high brow critics in giving much praise to the Academy Award Best Picture NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, but I simply could not praise a film that, in the end, was very disappointing. To my opinion this film was a bit too overrated.

NCFOM (No Country For Old Men) is an adaptation of the novel by Cormac McCarthy of the same title. If you ask me, NCFOM has a story that is best kept in book/novel format. I felt that the final act of this movie was not executed well, cinematically. (Yes, this is the spoiler part) You see, NCFOM has an ending where all the events seem to stop and just hang there from where it stops. You get an ending that will make you say - THAT was IT? and will definitely give you the unpleasant surprise of seeing the credits just when you have decided to glue yourself to your seats, planning to invest a good 20 more minutes for an anticipated glorious ending. But what you get is far from what may be considered as glorious.

Those who loved the movie may argue - But that IS definitely the point of the ending... that WAS THE purpose of the ending, to hang it where it stops- with the bad guy still on the loose, and the remaining hero, just sitting on his breakfast table. The purpose of the story seems like an exercise in futility. Sure, ok, let me agree with THAT purpose... But what still has bugged me is that the Academy Award winning directors of this movie, the Coen Brothers, did not seem to give the effort of making a kind of ending that is appropriate for a story that just stops without a sense of closure. The film just simply stops without warning, like it was the filmmaker's weird sense of humor.

Sure, some may say it’s a daring style of filmmaking. It's not typical Hollywood. That is how they see it. Fine. But what I see is effortless, lazy, and sloppy. I am all of a sudden suspicious of the Academy Awards desperate to give an award to this film just because it is unusual, and would probably upset the typical audience. It feels like it was too intentionally unconventional to the point that it felt so pretentious.

There really is nothing wrong with breaking the rules of conventional cinema. Hey, I am all for breaking the rules. But just executing what I think is a lazy technique, in my opinion, is not deserving of what is considered a Best Picture. To sum it all up, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN was supposed to be a great movie. But it terribly screws up the ending. I praise the movie for its actors, its unforgettable bad guy, its creative action and suspense, but with all good things considered, it quickly became a bad movie because of its final 20 minutes, and those final 20 minutes should have been enough to prove that this movie is really Not The Best Picture.

No comments: