Coens' Wild West thriller wows Cannes

20th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 19, 2007 (AFP) - A taut thriller with existential overtones set in the contemporary Wild West by Oscar-winning film-makers the Coen brothers is emerging as a favourite to snatch the Cannes filmfest's top prize.

CANNES, France, May 19, 2007 (AFP) - A taut thriller with existential overtones set in the contemporary Wild West by Oscar-winning film-makers the Coen brothers is emerging as a favourite to snatch the Cannes filmfest's top prize.

"One of their very best films," raved film mag Variety as the movie premiered at the world's biggest film fest, which culminates May 27 with the awarding of the prestigious Palme d'Or trophy.

"No Country For Old Men", Variety added, is "a bloody classic of its type destined for acclaim."

The film, based on a novel by US Pulitzer-winner Cormac McCarthy, takes place in 1980 in the wild, desolate scrubland bordering the US-Mexico frontier, when drug-runners have taken over from cattle rustlers and violence sweeps small towns.

"Some say it's a Western, we saw it as a crime story," Joel Coen said at a press conference.  

With corpses galore and rivers of blood -- not to mention a fearsome psychopathic killer whose favoured weapon is a deadly compressed-air device used to slaughter cattle -- the film shows the West more lawless, more violent than in the frontier days.

But the brothers, makers of the Oscar-winning feature "Fargo", as well as "Barton Fink" and "Raising Arizona", and in competition at Cannes for the eighth time, denied the film and its wry dialogue carried a political message on guns or violence.

"That's not the way we think about the films that we do," said Joel.

"We loved the book and wanted to be faithful to it," said Ethan, finishing, as always, his brother's sentences.

The movie centres on three characters: the sheriff, an upright moralistic man phased by the changing times; the killer, who is fundamentally, metaphysically bad; and a decent Vietnam vet whose life takes a twist when he stumbles onto a bag stuffed with two million dollars of drug money.

The latter, played by Josh Brolin (currently in the Tarantino-Rodriguez double feature "Grindhouse"), triggers a bloodbathed sequence of events when he walks away with the ill-gotten gains.

Oscar-winning Tommy Lee Jones ("The Fugitive", "Men In Black") plays the sheriff and Spanish actor Javier Bardem ("The Sea Inside"), wearing his hair in a horrendous long mane, plays the killer.

"Being here at Cannes and working with the Coens is more than I would ever have dreamed of. But did I enjoy my haircut? No!" said the Spaniard, whose character is Terminator-like in his implacable lethal effectiveness.

"The reason I have this look is because I don't speak English," he joked of his unnerving off-kilter gaze through the film.

Also starring is Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald of "Trainspotting" fame, who threw off her Glaswegian accent for a remarkably authentic Texan one.

Joel Coen said her nationality almost excluded her from the beginning.

"When they first mentioned her I said "No f... way!'" he said. But "when I heard her speak Texan I said 'How did you do that?'"

"No Country For Old Men" is one of 22 films vying for the Palme d'Or. It is to hit movie theatres around the world starting November, putting it in line as well for the 2008 US Academy Awards.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news, Cannes Film Festival

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