Anthony's Film Review
No Country For Old Men (2007)
The Coen brothers have written and directed an intriguing and brilliant cinematic masterpiece...
No Country For Old Men works very well for the two kinds of movie audiences: the mainstream audience more focused on plot and the literary audience more interested in characters and themes. The film is both a crime thriller driven forward by suspense and a character study making us think about the awfulness of humanity. Joel and Ethan Coen have made an unforgettable adaptation of the novel by Cormac McCarthy. The film succeeds for three reasons: the cast, the direction, and the conclusion.
Josh Brolin is Llewelyn Moss, a hunter who stumbles upon abandoned trucks, murder victims, a stash of heroin, and two million dollars in cash, all in an otherwise quiet desert landscape in Texas. He takes the money and runs, even while knowing he'll become the prey. Javier Bardem is Anton Chigurh, a cold sadistic hitman who cleverly tracks down Llewelyn every step of the way. Finally, Tommy Lee Jones is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, who is also searching for Llewelyn. Although he seems to have less screen time than the other two, the significance of his role is just as important.
All of their performances are memorable, but Javier Bardem steals the screen in a frightening performance as the creepy-looking Anton. He has no dialogue in many scenes. If he is speaking, he is striking fear into others. Much of the suspense comes from the notion that Anton could kill anyone he encounters without hesitation. Very few people are lucky. Consider the scene with Anton speaking with a man running a gas station. At one point, Anton flips a coin and asks the man to call it. We fear for this man's life, because we cannot predict what Anton will do next.
Going back to the plot, Llewelyn's motive for taking the money is not relevant. What's important are the events set in motion. Llewelyn is being chased by both Anton and Ed for different reasons, but Anton is much closer. The hitman never loses track of Llewelyn, especially when the two characters are just about to appear in the same camera shot. The Coen brothers generate real tension by crafting each shot carefully and allowing us to take in the details. The beauty of this method is its simplicity. There is also no background music, which allows us to listen to the sounds carefully.
By delivering great suspense, vivid character portrayals, and crisp dialogue, the film is an endless journey of bloody violence and death. Without giving anything away, the story does not have a sense of closure. Instead, there is a mysterious openness to the future. We see all of the events unfold, then wonder what else will take place. One can only assume a continuing cycle of human sorrow. If it is true, then this is truly no country for old men where there are no clean getaways.
For more information about No Country For Old Men, visit the Internet Movie Database.