A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action, while attempting to liberate a twelve-year-old prostitute.
Robert De Niro,
In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) 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 (Javier Bardem), 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 Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When Chigurh is shooting at the pickup that Moss is in, the rear-view mirror is broken and hangs down at an angle. Later, Moss adjusts the mirror to see where Chigurh is, and it is unbroken again. See more »
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 ...
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Days after seeing it, I am still haunted by No Country for Old Men.
There is just something so effectual and uncompromising about it, that
mere words will only begin to skim the surface of the cinematic
excellence on display.
At its most simplistic, the film is a game of cat and mouse. The mouse
here is Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a hunter who stumbles upon two
million in cash after a drug deal gone wrong, and takes it thinking
nothing of it. He tries to cover his tracks, but ends up letting the
group looking for the money, figure out his identity. The cat is Anton
Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a hit-man hired to find Moss and the money.
But Chigurh is unconventional at best; he also happens to be bordering
on mentally insane. And another man, a law man this time, Sheriff Bell
(Tommy Lee Jones), is on the trail of both men as they criss-cross
Right up until its dénouement, the film is simply brilliant. Taut and
thrilling, it blows right through the majority of its two hour runtime
with ease. Even during moments of slowing down, the film stays right on
track and never feels like it has run its course. It engages even when
it appears that nothing is happening. The Coen Brothers truly crafted
what appears at first glance to be a masterpiece, even if it is their
first real shot at something that is not indelibly and inarguably their
own. Even without reading Cormac McCarthy's novel, I know that the
Coens have done it justice, even with their bitterly twisted and dark
sense of humour scattered throughout the film.
But all of that comes to a standstill as the film concludes. The last
twenty or so minutes feel like hours as the film wraps itself up, and
it almost feels like these scenes belong to another movie entirely (one
that borders on being pretentious and monotonous). I realize now that
McCarthy's novel probably ends the same way, but it does not help
provide closure to the fact that the movie is so break-neck paced right
up until this happens. Its brilliance is shattered by what looks to be
a series of tattered events thrown together to provide closure for all
of the characters, alive or dead, and for its audience. It speaks
volumes to the film's title, but it just does not feel satisfying
compared to the rest of what we saw. Even with its enigmatic devices at
play, I still cannot come to terms with how the film closes. It does
haunt, and in a way, it may prove to be a significantly stronger ending
as time rolls on. But as it stands now, it just feels weak.
What is also a bit of a surprise, and only seems to appear as the film
concludes, is the music. It is not so obvious at first, but the
majority of the film is audibly shown with just the sounds the
characters make and no background music to speak of. This element is
brilliantly used, as it helps intensify every situation and makes the
film downright terrifying in some cases. It just helps truly make the
film come together, and only helps establish the quick pacing even more
so. It was definitely a surprise, and one that will probably help the
lasting impact of the film become even stronger.
The lush and bloodsoaked visuals also help to define the film. Despite
the film taking place mainly in deserted areas, or the desert itself,
the camera manages to capture just the right essence of what the
writing and acting is conveying. The isolation and the terror almost
become characters themselves through these visuals, and are sure to be
recognized as the award season rolls in.
The film's acting is also very well done. Brolin anchors the film and
even when it is just the audience reacting to his attempts at saving
his life, he manages to deliver the best performance of his career. He
breathes life into Moss, and truly brings a sense of pathos to the
character. We feel for him and his greedy mistake, and as he develops
into a man unwilling to go down without a fight, he only manages to up
the ante for himself countlessly. Jones, as the law man stuck on the
fringe of every event, also does very well for himself. Most of his
work is simply delivering dialogue, but it is delivered in such a
fashionable sense that you feel like he is speaking to the bigger
picture of things, and not just himself. I would have liked a bit more
development in his character, but what little there is helps his
Supporting turns from Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald are also done
well, but are overshadowed by the main cast by both Brolin and Jones.
And even more of an overcast is Bardem as the ruthless Chigurh. He
absolutely nails this character down to his very bones. If anyone is
merely toying with the idea of seeing the film, it should be
specifically for Bardem. His performance is calculating and plagued
with petrifying silence. When he chooses to talk, his words sound like
they are being given by the essence of evil. This is a man with a plan,
but it is one that only belongs to him. His enigmatic presence is
developed throughout the film, and never once does it feel particularly
appropriate to understand where this menace comes from. Watching him on
screen is a jolt to the heart, and will go down as one of the best
performances of the decade. His terrible hair only helps to make his
character that more scary and formidable.
No Country for Old Men is one of the best pictures of the year, even if
it is flawed. Its brilliance and lasting impact with leave you haunted.
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