Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No Country for Old Men” by Michael Koresky (October 30, 2007)

The term “return to form” may be overused, but it certainly applies to the Coen Brothers’ new adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novelĀ  “No Country for Old Men” — in its visual economy, maddeningly beautiful symmetry, and eccentric mundanity the film is a reminder of why the Coens were initially tagged as wunderkinds. It’s easy to derive pleasure from the Hitchcockian virtuosity of “No Country”‘s mouse-trap set-ups, but the sweet surprise here is that Joel and Ethan Coen, genre vagabonds and occasional wise-asses who had been stuck in a rut as of late, have shot their latest film through with palpable, evocative melancholy and purpose. And have done so without seeming overly calculated: McCarthy’s stark prose and workmanlike trajectory have meshed beautifully with the filmmakers’ tendencies to reduce characters to singular traits. In this case, principals Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Tommy Lee Jones have been boiled down to their very bones; “No Country” feels like a skeleton dance, a final raging at humanity’s end.

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