No Country For Old Men

"Excellent"

No Country For Old Men Review


The only good man to be found in Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country for Old Men is a sheriff by the name of Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). Every morning he has bacon and black coffee with his eggs and he'll take any chance he can to ride horses with his wife in the canyons of California's border territory. In a jarring opening monologue, Bell says that to know the kind of evil going on these days would require a man to put "his soul at hazard" and to say "OK, I'll be part of this world." He doesn't find appeal in conceding to either.

Bell's troubles kick off when a deputy makes the fatal mistake of arresting a pale man with a terrible bowl cut, properly named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Chigurh strangles the deputy while his flailing boots leave a trail of scuff marks on the jail floor. As he makes his way back to his meeting spot, Llewelyn Moss (a near-stoic Josh Brolin) has come upon a massacre of drug runners in the California canyons and prairies. He leaves the drugs but takes a bag full of money for his own. Within hours, he is sending his wife to live with her mother and plotting the best way to shake the trail of dead that is left in his wake. A cocky fixer (Woody Harrelson) makes nothing but a blip on Chigurh's radar as he rifles through hotels and hospitals to find his money and the man who has "inconvenienced" him.

Adapted with a vice-grip from Cormac McCarthy's ferocious novel, No Country is the neo-western byproduct of a deranged and adrift zeitgeist. Bell constitutes a prolonged case of deja vu from when the West was a place where the law was respected though hardly ever obeyed. While Moss might dress and talk like a cowboy, he acts and thinks like a thief on the run: after the money is stolen, he is intermittently wounded or bleeding in some way for the rest of the film. Chigurh must have been spawned from an uncharted ring of hell to do half the things he does: using a cattle gun to dispatch human cattle and pop a few pesky locks, flipping a coin as a victim's last vestige of hope. One character, when questioned, diagnoses Chigurh's disposition as "not having a sense of humor."

The Coens have matured into deft directors of small action in haunted set pieces: a self-administered surgery in a hotel room, the securing and retrieval of the bag of money in a vent, a last-minute inspection of a crime scene. These are all moments of laconic tension that play out and blend into the blood-soaked décor of the film with rustled elegance. Even more, their touch with actors has become a refined skill. Jones has become a monument to "the old ways" in his own right but unlike his character in Paul Haggis' exceptional In the Valley of Elah, his dread and terror over the current state have become terminal here; his bracing yet defeated tone hangs over the film like a cracked bull skull. Bardem miraculously plays Chigurh without deluding his malevolence or turning him into a character. The scariest part of Bardem's groundbreaking performance is that he acts just a notch left of human.

Chigurh's rampage through California, shot like a suburb of purgatory by the extraordinary Roger Deakins, and Moss' inability to shake that bag of money become the death knell for the old ways, not to mention Bell's belief that he can do some good. The sheriff wrestles with his sense of discouragement and the feeling of being "outmatched" while sitting over a bad cup of coffee with his Uncle Ellis in one of the film's final scene. What becomes apparent in the Coens' film is echoed at the end of Ellis' hair-raising eulogy for the American conscience: "You can't stop what's coming."

Old men ought to get their own country.



No Country For Old Men

Facts and Figures

Run time: 122 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 21st November 2007

Box Office USA: $74.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $171.6M

Budget: $25M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: Paramount Vantage, Miramax Films, Scott Rudin Productions, Mike Zoss Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 223 Rotten: 14

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, as Anton Chigurh, as Llewelyn Moss, as Carson Wells, as Carla Jean Moss, as Wendell, as Loretta Bell, as Ellis, as Man who hires Wells, Rodger Boyce as El Paso Sheriff, as Carla Jeans Mother, as Poolside Woman, Kit Gwin as Sheriff's Secretary, Zach Hopkins as Strangled Deputy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

This much more light-hearted sequel reinvigorates the franchise after Disney's quirky but murky 2010 reboot...

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Acclaimed filmmaker Whit Stillman reunites the stars of his 1998 drama The Last Days of...

Money Monster Movie Review

Money Monster Movie Review

A sleekly made thriller with a sparky sense of humour, this is also a rare...

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Advertisement
Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.