Thursday, January 24, 2008

OCoen OCoen

The Coen brothers eh, are they too clever by half? A certain lack of soul and empathy amidst the smart stuff? Not quite in the Tarantino league in this regard, but tending in that direction. Of all their movies only the creepily atmospheric "Blood Simple" truly impressed me - although "Fargo" had its moments. I went to see "No Country for Old Men" last night in Dun Laoghaire and fell asleep - that must be the most profound critical judgement; or maybe I had too much wine after dinner. It was beautiful to look at: the great sweeping praries of West Texas; the small town characters and exquisitely accurate settings (where do they find those hotels and motels?); the blood seeping across the floor; the sumptuous shootings etc. But there was something hollow at the heart of the movie, and also of course at the heart of Cormac McCarthy's novel to which the movie was painstakingly true. We get absolutely no insight into what makes any of the main characters tick, or why they do what they do. They are merely types: the affectless killer; the rootless 'Nam veteran; the cartel boss in a smart suit; the aw shucks old cop acting as a kind of chorus; the loyal through thick and thin wife; and of course the nagging mother-in-law. It's comic book stuff. The movie is essentially a series of hits by the persistent hit man and it becomes repetitive and ultimately tedious (albeit beautifully filmed, crisply edited and with some fine terse dialogue). OK, you can see it as an allegory for modern America - a struggle between good and evil where evil wins, but so what.