DVD of the Week – No Country For Old Men (2007)
by HELEN GEIB
When Rishi, Geoff, and I published our “ten best films of 2007” lists, No Country For Old Men jumped out as the only title to appear on all three lists, and on each quite high in the ranking. That’s just one more testimonial to the broad critical appeal of a film that was awarded the Academy Award for best picture and was the subject of overwhelmingly favorable critics’ reviews. No Country is a masterful film and a great achievement for co-directors and writers Joel and Ethan Coen.
No Country fared less well with the public. For a serious drama without obvious audience appeal beyond the promise of artistic merit, it performed extremely well at the box office (and is the Coens’ highest grossing film to date), but it was often greeted with dismay and incomprehension.
Following the initial slate of reviews, No Country reappeared in print and online media as the subject of a disquisition on the reasons for its sometimes poor reception. The consensus opinion, and one I share, is that the problem does not lie with the violent happenings or downbeat conclusion in and of themselves, but rather with the way events are presented– and occasionally not presented. The subtlety and unconventionality of the storytelling are exhilarating to critics jaded with familiar cinematic devices, but the very aspects of the film that make it particularly rewarding to dedicated film lovers also make it a difficult film for casual moviegoers.
For its admirers, and I hasten to note that the circle of admirers extends well beyond the limits of the nation’s film critics, No Country For Old Men is a powerful and rewarding film of palpable intelligence and conviction. Script, performances, direction, cinematography, production design, and indeed all elements of the filmmaking are of the highest caliber. It is still playing in some theaters and I urge you to see it on the big screen. If you miss it in the theater, see it on DVD. This is an important film.
Other new releases this week: August Rush, Bee Movie, Dan In Real Life, Hitman, Nancy Drew, Saawariya, Sleuth, Summer Palace, Vanaja