No Country for Old Men

Dir: Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007. Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson. Mystery/Thriller.
No Country for Old Men

A series of unfortunate events unfold in a small desert community when a drug deal near the Rio Grande goes sours, bringing a dark whirlwind into their lives.

Adapted from the novel by famed American author, Cormac McCarthy, the Coen brother’s screenplay is tight, authentic and really able to utilize a story with three leads.

While more often than not, voiceover seems forced, the narration that opens this film does a wonderful job of setting everything that follows in motion.

The direction is flawless—a perfectly realized tapestry of Americana. The Coen brothers guide the story in a way that maintains a constant tone of dreadful uneasiness. Through this timepiece crime caper, they provide a sense of change in our culture towards violence and greed.

Roger Deakin’s cinematography captures the America landscape unlike any other. His expansive shots of vistas are breathtaking, while his compositions are intimate, capturing the early eighties southwestern production design with great precision.

Tommy Lee Jones (Natural Born Killers) plays the long-time sheriff of the small town this tornado of terror passes through. As the seasoned narrator and moral compass of the film, Jones turns in one of his finest and most beautifully observed performances. Although he’s played cops many times throughout his career, there is a certain unique intelligent sorrow about “Sheriff Ed Tom Bell.” It is perhaps my favorite of all his roles in an impressive resume.

The casting of Josh Brolin (W.) as the strong silent cowboy type is right on. His portrait of “Llewelyn Moss,” a good man who makes the mistake of thinking there is such thing as free money, is intense and internalized. There are few other actors with the look and attitude to have given this character the believable gravitas to make him feel true to life.

Kelly MacDonald (Trainspotting) is wonderfully worrisome as Llewelyn’s wife “Carla Jean”—a woman watching her husband get deeper and deeper into trouble, not knowing how to save him.

And last but most certainly not least, Javier Bardem (Collateral) creates one of the greatest and most unnerving villains in the history of cinema. A killer named “Anton Chigurh” -- more of an evil specter than a man, taking lives as he travels across the dusty plains. A wandering being that is without a conscience, nor mercy -- only believing in the chance for life that comes with the flip of a coin. From the first time we see his wild eyes, Bardem’s “Chigurh” takes his rightful place amongst the most terrifying of movie bad guys.

With No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers deliver the masterwork of a career filled with unique and idiosyncratic projects (Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski). It’s a movie that will grip you every time you put it on. It is one of the few films that truly deserved it Oscar for “Best Picture.”


No Country for Old Men won 4 Oscars including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem). It was nominated for 4 additional Oscars.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Feb 2, 2009 1:56pm
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