‘No Country for Old Men’ Sparks Smallest Critical Backlash Ever

Tommy Lee Jones reads another rave review, scowls.Courtesy of Miramax

As No Country for Old Men’s Rotten Tomatoes score climbs ever higher, with nearly all critics praising it as a masterpiece and the Coen brothers’ best-ever work, it currently ranks just behind Ratatouille as the year’s second-best reviewed film. Variety’s Todd McCarthy says it’s a “scorching blast of tense genre filmmaking shot through with rich veins of melancholy, down-home philosophy and dark, dark humor … a bloody classic of its type.” “An indisputably great movie, at this point the year’s very best,” raves Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers. New York’s David Edelstein is more measured in his praise, calling it just “a near masterpiece.” The only stumbling block for some critics seems to be that the movie is too faithful to its less-acclaimed source material, the 2005 Cormac McCarthy novel by the same name.

So far the only notable critics to dislike the film are The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane and the Observer’s Andrew Sarris. Before lightly panning it, though, Lane says, “No Country for Old Men is beyond question a return to the dark, simmering days of their best work, in Blood Simple and Miller’s Crossing.” And in his review, Sarris acknowledges that he’s “clearly in the minority” and that “It will almost certainly be number one on my list of movies that other people liked and I didn’t.”

Sasha Stone at Awards Daily wonders if No Country for Old Men’s unpopularity with actual old men (Sarris is 79) might hurt its chances with Oscar voters (whose ranks are rumored to include several old men), but somehow we doubt it.

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Just Shoot Me! Nihilism Crashes Lumet and Coen Bros. [NYO]
No Country for Old Men review [HR]
No Country for Old Men [Rotten Tomatoes]
No Country for Old Men [NYM]

‘No Country for Old Men’ Sparks Smallest Critical Backlash Ever