As of late I’ve been trying to fill in blind spots in my film-viewing which (for instance, the James Bond series), and the films of the Coen Brothers are one of those blind-spots. I was only introduced to their films a few months ago when my uncle showed me Miller’s Crossing (which I really need to see again) and The Hudsucker Proxy (which is absolutely hysterical). I’d seen O, Brother Where Art Thou? and True Grit before, but outside of that I was blind to their films. As of late I watched Fargo and The Man Who Wasn’t There, both of which were fantastic films.
This past week, however, I watched No Country for Old Men. I have to say that I’m floored. It’s one of the most incredible films I’ve ever seen. The film is filled with amazing performances, incredible set-pieces, and blazing hot cinematography. The film smells like sunbaked dirt and reeks of sweat. Its plot meanders around, plays fast and loose with structure, and at times feels aimless, but this gives the whole thing an interesting quality of realism hard to find in most films. Yet the film is still distinctly a Coen film. The characters are all just a bit off, if you catch my drift, and the world seems to operate under its own odd set of rules.
One thing I particularly liked about the film is how its events are seemingly unrelated but it manages to bring them back together for a conclusion. The main point of this is the murder committed at the beginning of the movie by Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). It is brutal, sudden, and horrifying. It also has nothing to do with the rest of the movie thus far. The other half of the movie involves Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a hunter who finds dead bodies out in the middle of the desert with piles of heroine bricks and a suitcase full of money. The site of a gang war.
Naturally he takes the money.
His problem arises when he grows a conscience. When he found the money and the dead bodies he also found a man who was shot but had not died yet. The man asked a simple request: a drink of water. So in the middle of the night Llewelyn fills a jug full of water and goes back to give him a drink. It’s at this point the gang discovers him and is when the chase begins.
Eventually these two plot threads, Llewelyn and Chigurh, collide as we realize Chigurh is involved in the gang warfare and wants his money back. The best scene in the movie involves them chasing and shooting at one another in the middle of the street during the night. Llewelyn is an every-man in the purest sense of the word and is incredibly likable despite his flaws, meanwhile Chigurh is one of the most unstable villains I’ve ever witnessed in a film and seems to have supernatural powers. It’s clear from the get go that Llewelyn is far and away outmatched by Chigurh.
I could also write about Tommy Lee Jones and his amazing performance as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. He’s so level-headed, calm, and charming in the role. He is the moral center to the film it seems, and helps guide the two separate plot threads together. He plays the character with a lot of charm and heart. He’s great.
No Country For Old Men is a horrifying cinematic experience, but is also exciting and thrilling. I remember the year it won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I was either fifteen or sixteen and I really wanted to see the movie, but I eventually forgot about it. I’m glad that I finally remembered to watch it. This might end up being one of my favorite films. Great stuff.