The Coen Brothers (check out also our review of their The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) are a phenomenal duo of directors who have made their arcs since the late eighties, and they have become household names in Hollywood for the past 3 decades. Their work is filled with some of the tightest writing, some of the most upbeat and yet mind-numbing characters, and brutally visceral interactions between psychopathic, sociopathic, and stoic characters that you will ever find. No Country For Old Men is one of such movies that highlight every single one of those aspects in their filmmaking, it’s a film that pushes the envelope for a proper depiction of the lawlessness of the modern West.
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The Movie Review
Amidst a hunting escapade in the rugged hinterlands of West Texas, a valiant sportsman chances upon a ghastly sight – lifeless bodies and a trove of riches, a remnant of a failed drug transaction. In a moment of greed, the sportsman seizes the treasure, oblivious to the fact that the ingenious mastermind behind the criminal enterprise, a notorious outlaw by the name of Anton Chigurh, is adept at tracing his plunder.
As such, the hunter becomes the hunted, enveloped in a web of danger and deceit. Meanwhile, a seasoned sheriff from Texas, Ed Tom Bell, relentlessly pursues both the sportsman and Chigurh, determined to bring them to justice. The chronicle unfolds in the early 1980s, a time when morality is tested and courage is required to combat the evils of the world.
Jackie BrownThis is particularly true for those who anticipate a climactic showdown where the hero and the villain square off with their weapons at the ready. However, No Country for Old Men delves into the realm of existentialism, despite the presence of crime at its core. In essence, the movie adapted from the novel defies convention not only within its genre but also in its storytelling technique.
The Coen brothers have a knack for weaving disparate elements together to create a unique work of art. While the film features subtle nods to the wild west, it unfolds in a modern-day society that has been transformed by technological advancements, social progress, and the unfortunate rise of criminal activity.
The crux of this movie lies in Sheriff Bell’s portrayal, a man of integrity, sharp perception, with a grip on reality, and an unyielding memory. His character serves as the centerpiece for the narrative of No Country for Old Men. However, The film’s plot is refreshingly simple, and the story progresses with minimal plot twists.
The film’s attention to detail is remarkable, meticulously depicting the procedure of everyday actions such as loading a gun, dressing a wound, and even crafting a pole to retrieve an object from an air vent. There is a stark lack of dialogue, with long stretches of silence that are purposeful and meaningful.
The film is an apt analogy for the evolution of the wild west – once a land where only the toughest of skin would survive, and how it has now transformed into a place where technology has brought convenience. Yet, the West being tamed has brought a new set of advanced challenges and dangers, similar to the unknown threat of characters such as Anton Chigurh.
The character of Anton Chigurh is a fascinating enigma that raises a multitude of questions through his actions and interactions with others. Javier Bardem’s portrayal of this complex character is nothing short of remarkable, with his mere presence on screen evoking a palpable sense of fear and mystery. Despite being somewhat incomprehensible, Chigurh’s captivating nature makes up for any confusion.
The casting and acting in the film are top-notch, with Tommy Lee Jones being a natural fit for the role of the Sheriff. Josh Brolin delivers an exceptional performance as a rough-and-tumble protagonist who is far from being a hero, serving instead as a stark contrast to the typical hero archetype. The minor roles in the film are equally impressive, with standout performances from the store owner who is asked to call a coin toss and the stout woman who, with a characteristic Texas twang, defies Chigurh’s demands with a dour expression.
The cinematography in this film is truly exceptional, with vivid colors and sweeping panoramic shots that capture the vastness of the great outdoors. The natural beauty of the West Texas setting is enchanting, with the howling winds, a palpable silence, and awe-inspiring landscapes. The film makes great use of the stark contrast between the vivid beauty and the brutal, rugged wildness of the land.
The sweeping vistas and wide-angle shots showcase the stunning yet desolate terrain, underscoring the harsh realities of the environment. Although, that is to be expected when the great Roger Deakins is in charge of the cinematography.
Carter Burwell’s use of minimalist techniques, with sparse instrumentation and extended silences, creates a foreboding atmosphere that is hauntingly beautiful. The sound of a lone acoustic guitar, combined with dissonant strings and percussion, sets the tone for the film’s bleakly unforgiving story.
The music never detracts from the action on the screen but instead enhances the emotional impact of each scene, making the violence all the more visceral. It evokes a sense of emptiness, as well as a feeling of inevitability that is central to the story. The music seems to be a character in itself, playing a crucial role in shaping the viewer’s understanding of the film’s themes.
No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece that defies traditional genre expectations and storytelling techniques. It is a meditation on morality, existentialism, and the evolution of the wild west. It is a film that demands attention, and its unconventional approach to storytelling and genre conventions is a testament to its artistic and philosophical value.
The film forces us to confront the harsh realities of life, while also acknowledging the beauty that can be found in even the bleakest of circumstances.
- Gripping and suspenseful plot that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, despite being refreshingly simple
- Strong performances from the cast, including Javier Bardem's chilling portrayal of Anton Chigurh and Tommy Lee Jones' nuanced performance as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell
- Meticulous attention to detail in the cinematography and sound design, Roger Deakins and Carter Burwell create a haunting and immersive atmosphere
- Philosophical and existential themes explored in a thought-provoking way, transcending the boundaries of traditional crime thrillers
- Some viewers may find the lack of a traditional hero and climactic showdown disappointing
- The sparse dialogue and slow pacing of the film may not be to everyone's taste