The last recommendation for my viewing of Night of the Hunter for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book is this crime thriller from the Coen Brothers. The story follows a trio of characters, and two million dollars.
When Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) comes across the fallout of a drug deal gone bad, he doesn’t call the police, instead he keeps the money for himself. But that is just going to cause all sorts of problems, as the local sheriff, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones – who despite top billing doesn’t show up until a half hour in, and has the least amount of screen time of the three leads) tries to figure out what is going on, and how to stop the spate of murders in the area. The murders are conducted by the vicious hitman, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), as he attempts to recover the money Moss has claimed.
Bardem’s Chigurh, with his odd haircut, and disturbing manner, is cold and feels completely unstoppable, and you know everyone in the area is going to be in dire straits if they come across him. He captivates every time he is on the screen, with an eerie, calm and menacing presence.
The Coen Brothers have crafted a modern masterpiece with nods to both the western and thriller genres as they adapted the film from Cormac McCarthy’s original novel. The film is stunningly gorgeous to watch, the stark backgrounds watching impassively as the human drama plays out across it.
The film took four Oscars at that year’s Academy Awards, Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Bardem), Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, so it should be no surprise that I was completely stunned by this one. I’d only seen it the once, and knew I loved it, as I do most Coen Brothers’ films, but diving into it again, is, once again, a revelation.
The film also has a fantastic supporting cast, including Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, and Stephen Root.
As the film plays out, Llewelyn tries to elude Chigurh, and Bell tries to catch up with both of them, as the violence spreads, and the money proves more of a burden than Moss had thought.
The Coens, once again, have crafted an amazing film, with top-notch performances, that lead us to an inevitable conclusion, and a perfect ending. The most surprising thing is that there is almost no score in the entire film, Carter Burwell’s total music contribution runs sixteen minutes, in a two hour film.
This one ends up being a wonderfully dark crime thriller with western overtones, that simply captivates each time it is screened. I love the cinematography, the use of light and shadows, Bell’s pursuit of the case, in his own way, and Chigurh’s unrelenting, terrifying killer.
This is one of those films that I think I will get something new out of every time I watch it.