25.1.08

film... and fiction: No Country for Old Men

No Home Here:
An Unashamedly Obsessed Review of
No Country for Old Men

Despite all the recent accolades and the prophesied sweep in the awards, there are not enough great things to say about Ethan and Joel Coen brother's film adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel - No Country for Old Men. Ever the avid fan of anything resembling existential cinema, I fell in love with this film the first time I saw it, which was alone in a multiplex theater on New Year's Day at 10pm. It was nearly a moment of personal, existential crisis. And finding that I couldn't escape the narrative world of the film in my thoughts, I took up the book and read.

The filmmakers are quick to point out that the critics recognize this film as one of the truest, most appropriate and altogether closest adaptations of a book for the big screen. They are not wrong to boast about this. The stark and austere visual palette of the film matches so carefully the terse and matter-of-fact nature of McCarthy's fiction. This is a story that could only go down in south Texas; dusty, barren chaparral and all.

Without spoiling any of the bitter tragedy and languid terror of the plot, I have to say that a narrative like this might be the best Christians can hope for in a film. Reminding us that life is often darkly senseless and full of remorse, we might recall the reason we first grasped at hope and found ourselves just looking for a way out. In the face of a nameless evil, what is the sum of all your life and longing? Maybe the great benefit of this story is its aid in helping us remember the questions, once again or perhaps for the first time.

My simple word to you is: See this film. Read this novel. If you need any convincing, consider the scene below. How many deals with the devil do we make each day?



Read a NY Times interview with Cormac McCarthy.
(Online subscription required, but it's free.)

5 comments:

Coat said...

By "the best Christians can hope for in a film" do you mean a right diagnosis of the human condition as hopeless outside Christ? Do you mean this as a concession to an imperfect medium? Or do you mean to say that this is really the best possible result of a film?

j razz said...

If I were to be an existentialist, I would say that he means, "the best Christians can hope for in a film" as there is nothing else he could mean (see the clip):)

Taylor,

Do you remember that time we went to Memphis (I don't know why) but for some reason, we got into a discussion that lasted the whole trip concerning how far one should go with a certain passage of scripture? The dialogue contained in this clip made me to feel like I did that day when we were discussing two sides of the same coin.

What is more, I don't remember the issue we were discussing, I just remember the emotions tagged themselves to it.

j razz

Ryan Coatney said...

If I were an existentialist, I would tell "Sugar", "don't forget to love yourself."

But I'm not.

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Carrie said...

This is great info to know.