Friday, April 18, 2008


Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kate McDonald, Tess Harper

"There are no clean getaways."

Key words that immediately enter my mind when I think of this Coen brothers film are violence, mighty bad ass villain, arid desert, bad hairstyle, cowboy hats, quirky dialogue, strange syntax of sentences and no background music.

The plot is simple enough to follow. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a large stash of cash left behind in the desert after a drug deal results in a bloodbath. A crazy assassin named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) chases after Moss leaving a trail of brutal murders in his path. While Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tries in vain to catch up with both of them. He has to save Moss's doomed life and arrest the elusive sociopath from wrecking more havoc to an otherwise tranquil Texan town.

The cat and mouse chase is gripping to watch. You silently cheer on Moss yet at the same time you fully know there is no way he is going to get out of this messy scenario, alive. But in some effect you can't help but admire his staying power. His ability to successfully elude Chigurh up to a certain point. You say to yourself, well he has some guts too this Moss fellow. He manages to exude this heroic vibe so there is a part of you which starts to believe that maybe just maybe he can escape from Chigurh's clutches. Josh Brolin held his own against the formidable Javier Bardem. People tend to forget the fact that if it weren't for Llewelyn Moss being the primary target then Chigurh wouldn't get all this exposure for being an evil, sadistic killer who has this quirky streak of character to his otherwise tough, never say die exterior.

Javier Bardem certainly deserved to win the Best Supporting Actor award. His bad hair notwithstanding, his soulful rendition of this very creepy character would certainly make it in the list of unforgettable movie villains. His Anton Chigurh although quite a fearful character wasn't entirely pure evil, I'd say. He did have this fascination with making his victims call the coin toss and would spare them if they predicted it right. Not that it necessarily gives him some redeeming value, it certainly doesn't, it simply makes him less despicable. He remains to his very core, a ruthless heartless killer.

The most intriguing character for me in this film was Sheriff Ed Tom Bell portrayed by the ever reliable Tommy Lee Jones. The movie starts with his narration - a lament on the way society has gone to the dogs. He grieves for the lost of the good old days when sheriffs hardly carried guns. His character seems to be caught up in a time warped zone. A sort of in denial attitude that lawlessness is taking over society yet he also seems powerless to do something about it. Despite being in the law enforcement business, he feels unmatched against the protagonists who have invaded his peaceful existence. His fear stemmed mostly from the unknown, he didn't want to face something he couldn't understand. For instance, he couldn't really make out this Chigurh character. A powerful rival beyond his realm of comprehension yet he kept at it, a relentless pursuit of the unknown. The movie ends with the Sheriff narrating a weird dream to his wife. A dream open to all sorts of interpretations but somehow you run out of time to analyze it because the film has ended. The end credits scroll up or down, either way you are left wondering for a few minutes, then you realize alright so that's it ... that's the end.

I believe the reason this movie won the Best Picture award at the Oscars lies in its story telling narrative. Its ability to tell a story direct to the point sans distracting soundtrack. In fact there was no music at all except for a short scene where some mariachi band starts singing. It had no disjointed side plots - just one main story which was the relentless pursuit of Chigurh after poor Llewelyn Moss with Sheriff Ed Bell Tom trailing shortly there after. No non essential characters to murk the plot. Clear crisp cinematography, long angle shots of arid desert, small Texan towns and interior close up scenes mostly of ultimate bad ass villain.

But the formula works and full credits goes to the Coen Brothers who are the only ones brave enough in the film industry to get away with this type of film.

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