Every Friday throughout the summer, we’re posting a movie that someone on our staff has picked as one of their favorite Miramax films. While the summer blockbusters invade the theaters, consider watching one of the staff picks over the weekend instead. Today’s pick is No Country for Old Men from our Digital Intern, Camille Getz.
No Country For Old Men serves as a testament to the notion that oftentimes less is more. Yes, the film is beautifully put together, with striking dialogue and shots to match. But what always surprises and impresses me the most is its soundtrack–or, rather, its lack thereof. The film easily could have incorporated a traditional score, with musical cues manipulating the audience’s reaction to each moment. But when a scene’s music is stripped down so dramatically that it becomes virtually nonexistent, the audience gains a heightened sensitivity to everything else happening at that time. Dead silence suddenly becomes infinitely more frightening and suspenseful than any booming orchestra-of-doom filler ever could be.
One particularly unnerving scene, in which a gas station attendant is challenged to a coin toss for his life, exemplifies the terrifying spareness that the movie embodies. Anton, a hitman whose murderous ways pale in comparison to his horrific bowl cut, eats peanuts as he threatens the unsuspecting attendant. The chewing sounds are excruciating. Still no music plays–even the ambient sound is minimal. By the time Anton has loudly crumpled the peanut bag, flipped a coin, and used the word “friend-o” in casual conversation, I feel like I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But, of course, that’s exactly what a film with such a desolate soundscape is going for. It’s unexpected and fresh–and how fitting, too, since the story itself includes some pretty unconventional plot points. I mean, really, an oxygen tank used as a weapon? The best.