“No Country For Old Men,” review by Susan Granger

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Based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy, this is a wry, metaphorical tale of three macho men: the good guy, the bad guy and the poor Vietnam vet who gets caught in-between, never realizing the fatalistic ramifications of his greed.

Back in the 1980s in the barren desert of the West Texas-Mexico border, a deer hunter, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), wanders into the bullet-ridden detritus of a drug convoy shootout and picks up a satchel containing $2.4 million, never realizing there’s a tracking device hidden in the cash.

After sending his wife (Kelly Macdonald) to the safety of her mother’s home, Moss is relentlessly pursued by a mysterious, diabolically deadpan assassin, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who psychologically tortures his victims before dispatching them with a cattle stun gun. Chigurh’s train of bloody carnage has attracted the attention of veteran sheriff Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who is ready to retire, discouraged by the ever-increasing narcotics crime and its attendant lack of respect and courtesy.

“Any time you quit hearing ‘Sir’ and “M’am,’ the end is pretty much in sight,” he muses.

Writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen (“Blood Simple,” “Fargo”) incorporate their trademark black comedic touches into this suspenseful, often confusing contemporary Western, as Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem (with a haircut off Dutch-Boy paint cans or Prince Valiant cartoons) deliver three of the most memorable screen performances this year.

Several weeks ago, A.O. Scott in the New York Times ruminated on the lasting influence of the graphic violence in Arthur Penn’s 1967 “Bonnie and Clyde;” it’s reflected here in Roger Deakins’ photography. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “No Country For Old Men” is a brutal, intense 9. It’s an enigmatic, metaphysical mindgame.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.