No Country for Old Men

It’s been a while, but I have a couple of days off, 5 films to post my thoughts on and no social life. Let the good times roll!

No Country for Old Men (2007)

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Coen brothers fan. It’s not because their films aren’t good- it’s just that they were on a bit of a downturn since “The Big Lebowski”- let’s not forget, they directed the remake of “The Ladykillers”- *shudder*

“What’s this guy supposed to be, the ultimate badass?”

After he finds $2 million in the desert where a drug deal has apparently gone wrong, workin’ man Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds himself on the run. He is persued by silly haired killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), an unemotional, remorseless man with a unique murder weapon at his disposal. Throughout, soon-to-be retired Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) attempts to convince Moss, mostly through his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald), that he should turn the money over to the authorities before it all ends in tragedy. It’s a truly great story that sucks you in from the moment Tommy Lee Jones’ grizzled voice opens proceedings to his grizzled voice closing them.

As for actor comments, Josh Brolin is pretty damn good. He plays Moss with the sardonic, world-weary edge of a typical Coen character, but with enough charm and likability to avoid the “seen it all before” trap. Tommy Lee Jones is good too, but hardly stretching himself with the role of “old Texas man with a sardonic, world-weary edge”. However, it’s Javier Bardem’s Chigurh that is the stand out performance in this film. He’s one of the very few genuinely scary villains I can think of. I don’t know whether it’s his deep, slow voice coupled with one of cinema’s stupidest haircuts but it all adds up to a deeply unsettling performance. He’s cold, calculating and deadly. It’s no accident that nearly all of the film’s best scenes involve him in some way.

Favourite scenes include Chigurh’s introduction where he takes out two people in the space of three real world minutes – now that’s impressive. The tension-filled motel scene where Moss waits for Chigurh is brilliantly done too- never will a hiss of air make you jump so much. The coin toss scene is amazing too. Hell, all of it is good. “No Country…” is very similar to “The Big Lebowski” for me in the way that I start to name a favourite scene and remember five more at the same time. This is surely a testament to the Coens and the actors.

“What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”

The ending. I won’t say too much but I didn’t “get” it the first time round. It seemed an odd way to end such an exciting, tension-filled, haunting film with such a non-event. However, second time around I listened to the words and realised that I had been an idiot. It’s the perfect ending for this film. It’s well-written, layered and will only improve with repeat viewings, much like the film itself. If you haven’t already, see this film or I’ll be round your house with a pressurised oxygen tank and a murderous glint in my eye…

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