Neal Vitale Reviews: Enchanted
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

No Country For Old Men

4 stars out of 5

This film would have earned five stars out of five, except for the Coen brothers penchant for extreme and graphic violence. It is definitely art, although the message is obscure. Perhaps the message is, simply, that in the end life is random, and that neither good guys nor bad guys are assured of coming out of it OK. It may also be that entropy rules, and everything deteriorates. The movie is about the rise of mindless drug violence in Texas in the 1980s, to the extent that it is about anything.

Tommy Lee Jones has the role of a lifetime, with close-ups of his weathered face that will certainly haunt my dreams for a few weeks. Woody Harrelson has a great cameo which ends with a huge surprise. Stephen Root also has a cameo; he was Jimmy James the station owner on Newsradio. Needless to say, he's not that nice here.

Javier Bardem, who plays the psychopath Anton, made the jump from Spanish-language roles to English-language roles last year. If he is willing to be cast to type, he has a bright future. He's the scariest guy I've seen on the screen in ages.

(Neal Vitale adds: This is a nearly perfect film, full of wonderful detail and nuance - one of my favorites of the year. Paul highlights several of the positives, and I would add kudos to the underappreciated Josh Brolin (American Gangster), and note the nice work of Kelly Macdonald (The Girl In The Cafe), a Scottish actress playing a Texas wife. I give No Country 4.5 stars, falling short of 5 not because of the violence, but for the airy, amorphous ending. This is the same problem that undid another of my top films of the year, 3:10 To Yuma.)