No Country For Old Men

No Country For Old Men


In a filmic match made in heaven, the mighty Coen brothers adapt lyrical novelist Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men. This multi award-winning western/suspenser (including Best Film at the 2008 Academy Awards) is the Coen's first work from a non-original story. The darkly comic story follows a hunter (Josh Brolin) who discovers dead bodies, a stash of heroin and $2 million in cash on the Rio Grande.

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Flicks Review

Thoughtful, abstract, beautiful, and absolutely thrilling, the masterful Coen Brothers have excelled themselves again with this intelligent modern western.

The ensemble acting is phenomenal. The standout performance is, of course, Javier Bardem as psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh. His creation is the creepiest, nastiest, most inhuman nightmare anyone could ever hope to meet (but if you did, he’d probably kill you too). Josh Brolin is also very tough as flawed hero Llewelyn Moss. But the glue that holds the film together is Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Bell. It’s a perfect role for Jones, and takes advantage of his wrinkled face and slow drawl to depict a man out of his depth in the modern world, longing for the simplicity of the days of old.

Set in 80s Texas, the opening tableau shows a selection of landscape shots, each one with the sun a little higher in the sky. By the time local hunter Llewlyn Moss has arrived on the scene, the harsh desert light almost blinds us. One can almost feel the crackling heat radiating from the screen. Widescreen framing is used to full effect: when a drug deal gone wrong is first revealed to us from the vantage point of a rocky bluff, the bullet-ridden dead bodies look like little ants in the far distance.

The suspense is killer. Hitchcock would be sick with jealousy. In particular, take the scene with Brolin holed up in a hotel room as Bardem’s deliberate footsteps clomp ever closer. It’s edge-of-the-seat stuff, and absolutely thrilling. The Coens take delight in peppering the soundtrack with tiny details; a key turning in a lock, the click of a light switch, the minimalist beep of a radio transmitter.

It comes as some surprise, then, to learn that the thematic concerns of the piece don’t simply rely on quickening the audience’s heartbeat. In fact, the third act of the film may come as a shock. In many ways it abandons the taut thriller structure that has thus far been established, and becomes instead a quiet inward-looking contemplative look at the changing face of evil. On immediate viewing, this may seem something of a downer; a fizzling out into something more obscure, leaving some of us scratching our heads and others vocally outraged. But, on reflection, it’s an intelligent and thoughtful way to conclude a cracker of a film. It will leave you with something to think about.

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 17 ratings, 17 reviews
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BY delarge101 superstar

The storytelling isn't exactly enthralling, but terrific performances and brutal tension bring out the best in this Coen Brother's thriller-western. The script is intelligently written, and the way the film is directed emits gut-wrenching anxiety.

Beautifully made, great story and Bardem was the man!

I really enjoyed the movie primarily for Anton Chigurh's murderous single-mindedness. I vote for him to be the poster child for human evolution, the Che Guevara for survival of the fittest.

This is a fascinating set of story lines but you're better off reading the book if you can't understand the movie. The Coen brothers have taken four significant shortcuts that are like stutters, stumbles, or myoclonic jerks (the Coens are so expert they can literally sleepwalk the production of a movie) in... More the flow of the film. For example, how does the killer find the killer sent to kill him - if you want to know then read the book.Hide

‘No Country for Old Men’ is a sinister and malevolently crafted film that has stellar performances from all its cast members. It is two hours jam-packed full of intensity with great characters and a compelling plot-line.
The film is based on the 2003 novel by Cormac McCarthy, starring Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson and Javier Bardem. ‘No Country for Old Men’ is about the violence and mayhem that result after a hunter (Brolin), comes across dead bodies, a stash of heroin... More and more than 2 million dollars cash near the Rio Grande; an obvious drug-deal gone wrong. Instead of doing the right thing, the hunter decides to pocket it all for himself and from there; things go from bad to worse. A seriously disturbed killer is on his tail and a jaded cop (Jones) who seems to always be three steps behind.

The film has an eclectic mix of peaks and troughs that leave you transfixed throughout. The Coen brothers haven’t made a film this gripping since Fargo and with their quintessential structural trademark of breaking conventional story, this film will rattle the most settled viewer. They have achieved an unpredictable and disturbing film that is coated in paramount originality that stays true to the original story.

However, the loyalty to the viewer is tarnished and compromised in favour for a stronger and grittier story and characters. There is no real sense of pay-off for the audience. Justice is not apparent in this film and may leave many patient, mainstream viewers angry and annoyed. The story doesn't gratify the viewers need for good to overcome evil. But it delivers everything else and has done well at the Oscars.

Moreover, the Coens are not the type of film-makers to cave into studio bosses or viewer demands. And the result is a film that has kept true to the author’s vision, their need for originality, critical acclaim and Oscar awards.Hide

Left in fits of laughter that we'd sat through it and it never got any good. wondered who we would send to it as punishment.

Will be more careful in future.

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The Press Reviews

93% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • BBC

    No Country can be enjoyed as a straightforward genre thriller (and there are suspense sequences here that rival the best of Hitchcock) but it is worth digging a little deeper to expose the bedrock of aching sadness beneath the brutality. Full Review

  • 1/2 The Coen brothers sure know how to spin a yarn. With a surprising amount of wry humour for such a bloody and grim tale, No Country for Old Men may well be their greatest yarn yet. Full Review

  • Violent, poetic, gripping, thrilling and blackly funny: that’ll be the Coens doing what they do best then. Now with added humanity... Full Review

  • They have given us the ridiculous (The Ladykillers and The Hudsucker Proxy) and the sublime (Fargo and The Big Lebowski). The Coen brothers' newest is their best yet... Full Review

  • The Coens' latest film is drawing comparisons to one of their earliest, Miller's Crossing. It's certainly one of their least amusing pictures and suggests a suitable way forward for the brothers, who seemed to lose their edge in recent years. It has all the elements of a classic, although it does jump between scenes and settings a little haphazardly. Thankfully, it has Bardem to hold everything together... Full Review

  • 1/2 A great story is unravelled in the most enthralling and unexpected way, with some dark funny moments and some outstanding performances including not nearly enough of Woody Harrelson and Kelly McDonald. Full Review

  • A scorching blast of tense genre filmmaking shot through with rich veins of melancholy, down-home philosophy and dark, dark humor, <em>No Country for Old Men</em> reps a superior match of source material and filmmaking talent. Full Review