Wednesday, 24 February 2010

No Country For Old Men (2007) - Movie Review - 4/10

Look Deep Into The Hole, And See What You Find

No Country For Old Men has garnered a great deal of praise for its pseudo-philosophical musings and contemplations, but what purpose does it truly serve?

People who fault the film are derided for 'not understanding' its deeper meanings, and it is assumed they dislike it because of its lack of adherence to supposed Hollywood cliché. On the other hand, I would suggest that perhaps this form of movie is becoming as much a cliché as any other, struggling almost too hard to buck tradition and stereotype.

Films that explain everything are (often justifiably) criticised for never leaving any questions, yet like anything in life, it is perhaps best to find a happy medium. The greatest films leave us questioning and thinking, but they are also about something, and say something. They are films that point us in a general direction, that we can then narrow down in focus to interpret in our own fashion as individuals. Yet what happens when the film doesn't even point us in a general direction? When it is so aimless that it can be interpreted in any way, or not at all, in equal measure? A film that tries so hard to avoid saying anything at all, is as vapid and empty as the thing that leaves no room to question.

NCFOM is so open to multiple interpretations of practically every element, that it becomes an empty shell of a film. Those who wish to, can read absolutely anything they want into it. Unfortunately, in the style of the Emperor's New Clothes, those who choose to question its lack of substance are quickly hushed and told in condescending fashion that they do not understand this 'deep and meaningful' experience.

There is little point going into the possible interpretations and meanings in this review, as they are so open and varied. It is like a blank piece of paper, upon which we are told to draw a line from a to b. We could draw it anywhere in whatever way we wished. It provides freedom, but since we are not attempting to create our own work of art with the line, but interpret that of somebody else, it becomes an ultimately futile and most importantly, pointless exercise.

It is an expertly crafted movie, and from a visual standpoint, often a pleasure to watch. The acting from the leads is rarely (if ever) less than good, and often excellent. Beyond that, take from it what you will. Some of you will look at the deep, dark, bottomless hole and see a near endless myriad of images and meanings. Others will pick up the piece of paper with the hole drawn on it, and say that it is only an illustration of a bottomless hole, and really contains nothing but a fine drawing.

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