Coens' powerful 'Country'

The Baltimore Sun

No Country for Old Men is about the kind of amoral madness that can sweep across a country and redefine a landscape. It's so admirably lean and sinewy that it deserves not merely a rave review but a Johnny Cash song about matter-of-fact killings in shady hotels and sun-scoured landscapes.

The Coen brothers' best movie, hands down, is a chase film in which all the characters scatter their essences as they run. There's nothing self-conscious or secondhand about it. Maybe working from a spooky, percipient Cormac McCarthy novel rocked the brothers to the core. If (like me) you found the violence in their big hit, Fargo, intolerably affectless or facetious, you'll be leveled and elated by how they handle killing here. Every death has meaning and power, even when the victims feel as if they've peered into a void. No Country for Old Men is filmmaking by mature men.

No Country for Old Men (Miramax) Starring Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Rated R. Time 103 minutes.

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