I saw it this week and I have to say I thought it was brilliant and wonderful (though emotionally unsatisfying — which was the Coen Bros. intent). At moments it felt a tiny bit didactic, but it was didactic about such enormous themes that it can be forgiven for meandering into near allegory at times. I don’t want to spoil the movie for others so maybe we can revisit after the weekend (or after I finish some other work, whichever comes first). But I’ll just throw out there that while I agree with Ross and Jim Emerson – and Steve Sailer in Ross’s comment section — about the technical perfection of the film (as best I can judge such things) but I think the themes were a lot bigger than some of the reviews suggest. For example, I’m kind of surprised that the movie left no lasting impression on Steve Sailer. First and foremost it made me want to read the novel. But more importantly, I think you can find some very rich commentary on the American character and predicament in the movie (as Ross suggests in his review in the magazine but, I think, doesn’t explore enough). The fatalism, determinism (philosophically speaking), the rejection of cant and the waving away of nostalgia, were all powerful ingredients of the film, at least for me. One of the many things I love about the Coen bros — probably my favorite filmmakers these days — is that language matters so much to them. The dialogue really, really matters.
Anyway we can revisit later. But one last quick point: I’ve been surprised more people haven’t compared it — favorably or unfavorably — to A Simple Plan which I’ve long argued was one of the most conservative movies made in recent times. The plot alone is remarkably similar (though hardly identical).
In the meantime, catch the movie before it gets away.