Genuinely amazing debuts have been somewhat rare in the first few days of the Cannes Film Festival, but "No Country For Old Men," a cross-border crime thriller starring Javier Bardem, James Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones created an audible buzz in the Debussy theater lobby as members of the press spilled out of the aisles after tonight’s press screening.
Going into the screening it seemed few people knew much about the film, aside from the fact that it was the first full length feature film from writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen since 2004’s misfire "The Ladykillers." Adding more fuel for doubt was the fact that the duo have detoured in recent years from crime/thriller/dramas they’ve excelled in with earlier movies like "Blood Simple," "Miller’s Crossing," and "Fargo."
Rest assured, though — not only does "No Country" deliver another excellent Coen Brothers film, it also delves thematically deeper than your average crime thriller with its sprawling saga of a drug deal gone wrong, a bag of cash, a hunter on the run (Brolin), and the philosophizing psychopath on his trail (Bardem). Both men are impassive lone wolf types hurtling towards a Western-style duel, though one packs firepower to protect his stolen stash and wife while the other is driven by a singular sort of assassin’s destiny, leaving some lives to a coin toss while holding others to a code of honor. Driving parallel to their deadly pas-de-deux is the comically observed investigations of an aging local sheriff (Jones) who remains always a half-step behind, consumed with his own self-conscious musings on being an old-school sheriff in an increasingly dangerous, murderous world.
Based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, "No Country For Old Men" packs plenty of bloody action and suspense, though more notably it’s infused with the Coen touch of dark humor and wordplay. Miramax will release the flick November 21.
Check out the rest of our Cannes 2007 coverage here, including our daily photo blog adventures!!