No Country For Old Men

No Country For Old Men

No Country For Old Men (Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen, USA, 2007): Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, No Country For Old Men is a welcome return to form from the Coen brothers. The West Texas setting and the noirish storyline recall their first film, Blood Simple (1984), but with more than twenty additional years of filmmaking experience as well as strong source material, this is a much more accomplished film. Josh Brolin turns in an excellent performance as Llewellyn Moss, a prematurely “retired” welder who stumbles upon a crime scene while hunting in the desert. It’s obvious that it’s a drug deal gone bad, and among the bodies and shot-up pickup trucks is a suitcase full of cash. Finding the temptation too strong, he takes the money. From there, he is pursued relentlessly by Javier Bardem, sent in as “the perfect tool” to retrieve the money. Tommy Lee Jones is the ineffectual but philosophical sheriff whose despair finally gets the better of him.

Bardem’s performance, while seemingly over the top, is remarkable. He is less a person than a force. While Tommy Lee Jones represents the law, Bardem is lawlessness, chaos and death all rolled into one. And yet he follows his own twisted logic, tying up all loose ends according to his own code of ethics.

The film follows a very simple storyline, and the lack of a musical score keeps the suspense at almost unbearable levels. Bardem’s introduction also leaves the viewer unsure what he will do in any given scene for the rest of the film. Brolin is the not quite innocent but still sympathetic victim-hero of the story, and as he memorably says to his wife early in the film, “Stuff happens. I can’t take it back.” Indeed, stuff happens. And you won’t be able to look away while it does.

Official site for the film


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One Response to No Country For Old Men

  1. Maya says:

    Succinct and to the point. This is, in my estimation, the Coen Brothers best film to date, respectful of the novel and yet intact on its own merits with some interesting ellisions and shifts of narrative focus.

    Bardem’s characterization is bound to go down as one of the great criminals of all time.

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