No Country For Old Men (2007)
On Saturday, SMA and I viewed the Coen Brothers’ critically acclaimed film No Country For Old Men. It is their 12th feature together and marked only the second time in history in which co-directors merited an Oscar.
The movie is a faithful adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933)’s novel of the same name. McCarthy is a Knoxville native who attended the University of Tennessee. He also wrote All the Pretty Horses.
The movie is set in rural Texas in 1980. While hunting, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon large quantities of corpses, heroin, and cash near the Rio Grande. He leaves with the money. Mayhem ensues as sociopath Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), local sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), FBI agents, a host of Mexicans, and many others relentlessly attempt to find Moss. Note: The sheriff is not named Ed but “Ed Tom.”
The film has a very gritty feel to it as the locations are bleak and the soundtrack is minimal. The game of cat and mouse is captivating. The viewer pulls for Moss, who has survival skills that would make MacGyver jealous. During most of the movie, it can be assumed his skills come because he is from Texas and has a moustache. That is good enough for me.
The three principle actors are great and all have unique appearances. Josh Brolin looks very much like the large moustached Texan WWE wrestler Bradshaw before he transformed into JBL. Bardem looks eerily like “Everybody Loves Raymond”’s Brad Garrett with a Prince Valiant haircut. Tommy Lee Jones looks like an aged version of, well, Tommy Lee Jones.
Bardem’s portrayal of the psychopath is brilliant with both a unique look and weapon (captive bolt pistol). The Coen Brothers used a photo of a brothel patron taken in 1879 as a model for Anton Chigurh's hair. After getting the hair cut Javier Bardem lamented, "Oh no, now I won't get laid for the next two months." His portrayal exuded evil and he was well deserving of his Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.
All actors, including Scottish born Kelly Macdonald, play convincing Texans. Jones (San Saba) and Brolin (Templeton) are native Texans. In fact, in a scene where Llewelyn asks to buy a jacket from a bystander, the coat supports Brolin's hometown Templeton Eagles.
The film is a very good existential piece. It examines the issues of chance and the inevitably of death considerably. Like most existential films, it has an unsatisfying conclusion.
From a plot perepctive it is also excellent. There were often too many variables, including the completely superflous character Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), who adds little to the film. Otherwise, it is a solid story.
Theologically, the film is as barren as the West Texas locations in which it is set. There is very little God or good in the film. Only in a brief discussion between Ed Tom Bell and his relative Ellis, is God mentioned. From a Christian perspective, there are very few sympathetic characters. Though justice is in the film, it does not emanate from the law. In short, from a theological standpoint, the film could be titled No Country For God.
In short, the movie is a very thought provoking film with a non-Christian worldview. It won four Oscars and is presently #45 on IMDB's Top 250. There is a great deal of violence in the film and if you are troubled by graphic violence, avoid this flick. If you like violence and killer moustaches, this is the film for you.
Current IMDB rating: 8.5/10. Chanalysis: 7/10.