No Country for Old Men (2007): A Haunting Downer of a Film
With the Academy Awards airing this weekend, I thought it be a good idea to take a more-depth look at 2007’s winner of the Best Picture Oscar, No Country for Old Men! So that you can watch the movie for yourself on Netflix, the following review will be spoiler free.
No Country for Old Men is directed by the Coen Brothers and stars Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Tommy Lee Jones. The film follows Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) who uncovers a drug deal gone horribly wrong in the Texas countryside. After uncovering two million dollars among the dead bodies, the film turns into a game of cat and mouse between Moss and the Anton Chigurh (Bardem), a mysterious killer that determines the fate of his victims with the flip of a coin. All the while, an older cop, Ed Tom Bell (Jones), attempts to stop the escalating violence that is occurring as a result.
I’ve wanted to discuss a Coen Brothers’ movie for some time. They are easily two of the best directors working today, constantly tackling new genres of film that are equal parts original and intriguing. Even when their movies don’t necessarily work (like 2016’s Hail Caesar!), there’s still a lot to appreciate inside their films like the typical snappy dialogue, well-written characters, and great pacing. They’re incredibly original, something that can be very appreciated in an industry that lacks it.
As for No Country for Old Men, it came at just the right time as it followed The Ladykillers, arguably the worst Coen Brothers film. Based on the popular book by Cormac McCarthy, critics acclaimed that it was a welcomed return to prominence for the Coens with some even calling it the finest film the duo has ever made.
But critics have gotten it wrong before (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), so is No Country for Old Men worth all its praise?
What I Liked
Yes, yes it is.
The first discussion piece (and quite possibly the most obvious) is performance of Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh. This man was born to play a villain in film. Bardem has the uncanny ability to lose any type of expression in his facial mannerisms, which plays very well in No Country for Old Men’s dark story line. Bardem loses himself in this role, ridding himself of any expression or humanity as he stealthily creeps around with his cattle gun. Chigurh fully becomes this unstoppable evil and legitimately becomes a psychopath for two hours on screen. The character’s signature coin flip accounts for one of the creepiest scenes in cinema of recent memory as Chigurh terrorizes an elderly convenience store owner. Bardem may have created one of the best villains of all-time.
What I Liked…Continued
However, one of the choices that the Coen Brothers made with this movie that really stuck with me after viewing is that the movie has no score. This choice adds to the bleak nature of the film, giving No Country for Old Men its dark and disturbing feel that lingers on after the end credits hit the screen. While it doesn’t make for the most enjoyable movie experience, it sucks all the hope out of the movie, giving No Country for Old Men its distinct feel.
It also allows for tension to overwhelm each scene. Since there is hardly any ambient noise in the film, you as the viewer are locked into every movement that the characters make, which, in combination with the unemotional, ghostly movements of Javier Bardem, have you on the edge of your seat, praying that Josh Brolin escapes in the nick of time. Utilizing no score may be the most intelligent decision made in the making of this movie as it perfectly sets up the movie’s scenes.
What I Liked…Continued…Continued
But where the Coens truly shine in this film are the themes that they were able to translate from Cormac McCarthy’s book. The meaning of the title of the movie is seen in Sheriff Bell’s character, who inexplicably becomes the main protagonist by the end of the movie. No Country for Old Men tackles the idea of a person’s place in the world and how one realizes that they cannot keep up in their desired role in society as time passes and learn to finally move on in life, as seen by Tommy Lee Jones always being one step behind. Although, as humans, we strive to be the best version of ourselves, sometimes that just isn’t enough to accomplish the task.
As mentioned above, the film further explores the idea of escaping impending doom which realistically, isn’t possible. This concept may sound like a bit of a downer, but it is very well-realized on screen.
No Country for Old Men may not be the movie for you if you are looking for a lighthearted, feel-good movie, but its a loaded, tension filled movie that is masterfully crafted from the Coen Brothers. It absolutely gets an A+. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, make it your priority to stream it the next time you’re on Netflix.
Thanks for reading! Have you seen No Country for Old Men? Comment down below with your thoughts!
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