Sunday, 8 April 2012

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Rating: 8.5/10

"[first lines] 
 Ed Tom Bell: I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carried one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can't help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can't help but wonder how they would have operated these times. There was this boy I sent to the 'lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killt a fourteen-year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion but he told me there wasn't any passion to it. Told me that he'd been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. "Be there in about fifteen minutes". I don't know what to make of that. I sure don't. The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, "O.K., I'll be part of this world." 

First time I sat down to watch this film was during the time I was getting an education in filmmaking myself. I still remember that I had just been taught the magic of film sound and sound mixing in movies, so I was eagerly delighted to watch this film in my local cinema theatre in Bristol (UK). I had heard beforehand that it had quite a few shocking moments in it, but since I had read absolutely nothing about the story, I went in not knowing quite what to expect. All I knew, was that I had a growing antipathy to the Cohen brothers for some inexplicable reason. And then I saw this film...

First of all let me give you a taste of what the story's about:"In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong. Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss decides to simply take the two million dollars present for himself. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh, on his trail as he dispassionately murders nearly every rival, bystander and even employer in his pursuit of his quarry and the money. As Moss desperately attempts to keep one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in. Meanwhile, the laconic Sherrif Ed Tom Bell blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart." (

One of the really greatest things that the Cohen brothers have managed to succeed with this film is their sheer loyalty to the book. 'No Country for Old Men' was written by Cormac McCarthy and was visually translated by world-renowned directors Joel and Ethan Cohen who also co-wrote the script. The fascinating thing about this story of corruption and vanity is how truthful the two brothers stayed to the novel. In filmmaking is not an easy task to translate a very hefty on-words novel into images and sound. The Cohen's surpassed any kind of expectations that McCarthy may have had when he was giving them the right to make his novel into a film.

Apart from the very loyal and stoic attention the Cohen's gave to this film, they also were able to create the word of the 1980s wild-west Texas, and re-create the long-lost values of a long-forgotten era where morality and corruption were shaking between an uneasy balance. The Cohen's have long played on the themes of leaving the modern man take life in his own hands and make the tough choices between a life of crime and morality, but with this film they circulated even more to the idea of a world where heroes do not get to be victorious and the villains do not get the retribution of their ill-doing.

The most frightening moment of all is the absolute silence and serenity that with-holds the villain in the story; Anton Chigurh, who is performed by spanish-born actor Javier Bardem, who also got to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His portrayal of this ultra-villain is merely a testament of the growing corruption of the new-age, and what evil is able to conquer with a little patience and planning.

Equally well is the portrayal of the semi-hero of the story, Llewelyn Moss, who is performed by world-acclaimed actor, Josh Brolin. No matter how bad the story begs for retribution for the equally corruptive nature of Llewelyn, the reality hits him harsh and at the end gets the better of him.

It would be of course careless of me not to mention the real gem of the story; the struggling small-town sheriff who longs and idealizes the long-lost glories of getting his fairy-tale ending, of the villain getting what he deserves and the hero getting his victory (wealth and love). This beautifully performed role is portrayed by world-class actor Tommy Lee Jones, who once again his macho-cop character is looking to give an absolution to what has been done wrong in the world. Whether he succeeds or not that is something you will have to sit down and watch to find out.

This story is a tantalizing tale about the injustice and the raw reality of the vanities of how human nature fails to avoid temptation and falls prey of his own idolatries (in this case the money, as often is the case). The Cohens have done a superb job letting their camerawork extend their need to translate the words into images and let the silence throughout the film, fill in the high-tense emotional moments. Laconic language and moments of pure realism are a few of their key trademarks as directors, but also something that establishes them as visionaries of a tale full of human greed and corruption.

Excellent film to watch if you're in the mood for a good'ol crime of the west. Do not be shocked if you do not find that justice does not exist in this film. Some stories are plain truthful.

Sincerely hope every film-goer enjoys this film as much as I have.

Have a good Sunday afternoon!

No Country for Old Men (2007)


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