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For almost a year now one of the most anticipated movies, the clear favourite for most directorial and best film awards, the clear favourite in best male supporting actor for a viciously vicious Javier Bardem (who looks as if cut out of an Addams Family cartoon), with beautiful photography illustrating the glorious emptiness of the American Southwest.
It is all very well, no doubt that the Coen family has risen their level above the dullness of Intolerable Cruelty and the impossibly non-funny sacrilegue of Ladykillers. But.
But on top of all the beauty and beautiful emptiness and beautiful silence (loved the soundtrack score…), there is this feeling of something missing, and it may be that the missing thing is the film’s heart. I suppose the eerie feeling of boredom that is not really boredem but rather a permanent adoration of the picture’s beauty or the actors’ brilliance comes with the slow pace of storytelling the film choses. This would probably be less prevalent when watching it in a cinema, the pictures taking you away to a better place where pale killers cannot reach you and Tommy Lee Jones’ southern brawl fills your head and forces you to concentrate in order to understand what the hell is going on. Boredom can be beautiful, if the film convinces you that it is necessary to mirror the characters inner self, think Solaris. But boredom in a film about a killer chasing a thief having stolen from drug dealers having even killed the dog (or “dawg”, as they would pronounce it)? A little bit of tougher editing would have done well, and when you see that they chose to do this themselves, it may lead to the evertrue notion of letting specialists do specialists’ work.
I really liked the film, no doubt, but it could have been quite a lot better if (1) expectations had not been risen so high over those many months and (2) it just had been put together a bit more dynamically, also allowing to merge the various stories better. Tommy Lee Jones is brilliantly tired, but they leave him a bit alone in all this mess they created.
Roger Ebert Review
A O Scott for the New York Times

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