No Country for Old Men

Dave and I saw the latest Coen brothers movie a week or so ago. It’s very like Fargo in a lot of ways, so if you liked that and you don’t mind the resemblances, you’ll like this, too. It’s a grisly and intensely suspenseful thriller about a lot of people who are chasing after a suitcase full of money that disappeared from a drug deal that went very wrong. As in Fargo, the various schemes go wrong over and over again with violently bloody consequences, while a likeable rural police officer tries to catch up.

A lot of thrillers that get labeled “Hitchcockian” don’t seem to me to be any such thing except in the most superficial ways; a lot of movie reviewers seem to think that “Hitchcockian” is just a fancy synonym for “suspenseful”. But No Country for Old Men struck me as using a lot of genuinely Hitchcockian storytelling techniques and Hitchcockian touches. Hitchcock wouldn’t have indulged in anything like as much stage blood, but No Country often builds up suspense by the same sort of understated steps that Hitchcock liked to use. In some ways I was reminded of Frenzy, another rather misanthropic thriller that plays some disturbing games with the viewer’s sympathies.

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