Saturday, December 1, 2007

A movie to complement the book.

I just saw No Country for Old Men. It was really fantastic. [I hope I don't have to warn you guys, but there's def spoilers if you haven't seen it/read the book.]

I have to admit, while it was going on, I was like, okay, this is pretty good, but I wasn't completely sold. But the more time elapses, the more I think about it and let it settle in, the more I liked it.

The things it did well: It was subtle, understated. No music, nothing. Captured the violence without taking away from the gore, but nothing overblown. Quiet. I guess that's the big thing. There was a lot of quiet, which I really enjoyed. Coen brothers did a good job of taking the quietness of McCarthy's book and transposing it onto film.

Another thing it did for me was really bring into clarity the theme of lawlessness. These shots of violence juxtaposed with law enforcement forever arriving on the scene too late, or just plain having coffee somewhere in a diner. Always a step behind.

The thing I missed was at the very end - when Moss's wife is talking to Chigurh. I missed the dialogue there. I mean, okay, they couldn't have put out the whole dialogue because it's so long and philosophical and belongs better in literature, but I do feel it gives clarity to the whole thing. Because when I read that passage, that's when I was like, "Ohhhhhhhh... this is who he is."

I went to see the movie with a film school friend of mine, who has never read the book, or any McCarthy. We were discussing the film afterwards, and he was saying how he liked how we were never shown if she called it or not. So then I came home and called him and read him the full passage, and we spent all this time discussing that section and Chigurh's philosophy. After I read him a few passages, he ended up liking the movie better.

The other thing he said was that for the first 2/3 of the movie, he thought it was an action flick. Then Moss died, and he was like WTF? So now what? Then he started catching on that it was sort of philosophical, and it was only then that he started paying attention to the clues on theme. He said he wanted to watch it again so he could pay closer attention this time. I have to say, I felt the same when I was reading the book, in the sense that in the beginning, I was just focused on the plot, but then Moss gets killed off and there's still so much book left, and I was like, hmm, now what. It was only then that I started to look into what he was saying, but I think by then, I might have missed out on the clues in the beginning so I didn't appreciate it as much. Watching the movie makes me want to re-read the book again, to pick up on this stuff this time around and figure out what McCarthy's trying to say.

I really think that this movie complements the book really well. I think you lose some understanding of all the themes without reading McCarthy's kickass words, but in someways, the portrayal by the Coen brothers enhances McCarthy's prose.

This was VERY well done. The more I think about it, the more impressed I am, only because I think it's a very good example of taking McCarthy's original content and using the medium of film to enhance it and zero in on the same things that made the book great, in a different way. Keeping the heart of the story, I suppose.

And well casted too.


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