Wednesday, November 21, 2007

how a confusing ending can almost ruin a brilliant everything else

starring javier bardem, tommy lee jones and josh brolin
written and directed by the coen brothers
viewed at the century san francisco center, san francisco

for the first two hours of "old country of old men", i saw the very best of the coen brothers' illustrious career. i saw the most amazing film of this year so far. i saw a movie brilliantly written, directed and edited, and with truly captivating performances by bardem, jones and brolin. it was everything it was hyped up to be: a master's class in the art of storytelling.

and then, the final five minutes happened.

look, i'm not alone in this. everyone who left the theater with me was completely flummoxed. when i got home, i googled the film, and realized that reviews are flooded with people as confused as i was.

so, the question remains: does a very weird, unsettling and perplexed ending eradicate the brilliance that happened before it?

i don't think so. or, at least, not totally. "no country for old men" is still the best movie i've seen this year.

however, i can't see it winning any awards for best picture. for one, it will split votes with paul thomas anderson's "there will be blood". after all, they are very much alike, in that they are excellent in every aspect of making a film. however, there is a story arc in this one, full of resistance and drama and characters in peril. whereas anderson's movie seems like a challenge to himself, this is a masterstroke of creative geniuses.

and secondly, oh, that ending, it just can't help. it really can't. confusion works for david lynch because he's david lynch and that's what you expect. but for even the masters of the unexpected like the coens, it's just...

okay, enough about that. moving on, bardem, jones and brolin are truly awesome and worthy of any accolades they receive. the cinematography is gorgeous. and nobody edits a film with such poignancy as the coen bro...i mean, roderick jaymes. the first two hours represent the very peak of their canon.

if only.

UPDATE: so i thought about it overnight, and i'm completely changing my tune. the problem with the film is actually with the beginning in that we never know who's story it is. at the end, it's clear that the film is told through tommy lee jones' point of view. but for the mesmerizing two hours before that, we've got his story, but it's mostly about javier bardem chasing josh brolin. when we get to the ending, it's the cumulation of not the whole story, but of just tommy lee jones'.

so, despite the absolute brilliance, there just needed to be more about how this was the last chase of this lawman's career, just because the times have changed, and it's no longer just for someone his age.

damn, so close.

but it's still the best film i've seen this year.

1 comment:

Jaime Schwarz said...

As to what you said last, first: The first voice you hear in the movie is Tommy Lee Jones offering up advice he's learned as a law man of many years and the son and grandson of lawmen. Side note: did you realize his dad (I think that was his dad that had week old coffee) was that rich guy from Northern Exposure! Totally cool. And so we start and end with the point of view of Mr. Tommy Lee letting his wisdom be known before and after. Secondly, sadly for today's viewer, the whole movie's idea was wrapped up in the end of the movie. What our sheriff was contemplating and the other stuff that I don't want to give away for those who haven't seen it. It's very Cormac McCarthy (of what little I know of the author) which the Coen brothers stayed faithful to. We'll all just have to rent it and re-experience the ending a few more times. It's that important. And the awards people should have that luxury of watching it multiple times for the true effect. Fingers crossed that they do.