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No Country for Old Men: Nor the Faint of Heart

The Coen Brothers' repertoire is filled with some of the most accomplished films of the past two decades: O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, to name a few. But it is their latest film that most successfully emulates their greatest critical achievement, Fargo. I daresay No Country for Old Men might be even better. It's no secret that the Oscar bees have been buzzing around this film for a while and you can believe the hype — this movie really is that good. I officially predict it will be nominated for Best Picture, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin will be nominated for Best Actor, and Tommy Lee Jones might just snag a win for Best Supporting.

So what makes this movie so good? Exactly what made Fargo so compelling: an incredible plot (based on Cormac McCarthy's novel), sharp screenwriting, superb acting, and an insane amount of suspense. Seriously, I don't know if I've been so scared at a non-horror movie since The Silence of the Lambs. And just like that movie, No Country for Old Men works because the terror is believable. To find out what is so terrifying

The film follows Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) a simple man who stumbles across a disturbing crime scene in the desert: a drug deal gone very, very bad. Several men are dead and left behind is a whole lot of heroin and $2 million dollars. Naturally, Llewelyn runs off with the cash. But, of course, that large sum of money doesn't just go away unnoticed. Enter Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), the most horrifying villain since Hannibal Lecter. Anton is a killer without remorse, killing at leisure and with morbid gusto. Especially creepy is his weapon of choice, an oxygen tank. The irony there is the juxtaposition of a machine usually reserved for keeping people alive being abused in such an inhumane way. You will never look at an oxygen tank the same way.

Largely, the movie is a cat-and-mouse game between Llewelyn and Anton, supported by minor characters along the way. Tommy Lee Jones plays a cop who's trying to track down Llewelyn for his role in the drug deal. He also offers much needed comic relief, albeit a special dark brew of relief a la Frances McDormand in Fargo.

If there is any reason to complain about this movie, people will likely cite the film's obscure open-for-interpretation ending. Personally, I think it worked. More so I had a beef with the opening of the film. The audience is introduced to Anton in a seat-gripping scene, and while it certainly sets the tone, it feels disconnected from the rest of the story. Other than that, No Country for Old Men is without flaw.

Photos courtesy of Miramax

Hootie Hootie 9 years
I just saw this movie today and the ending sucked. I movie was too slow and no pay off. I didn't think it was too violent or bloody. Just boring. I kept waiting for it to get good. The best part was Javier after he got out of the tub.
Advah Advah 9 years
I saw it last night (later release in the UK), and to be honest I don't really know what to think about it. (warning: SPOILERS ahead) I agree that it's visually superb, the atmosphere is excellent in its combination of peaceful landscapes/scenes/dialogues (especially anything involving Tommy Lee Jones. The whole "hunter becoming the hunted one" is really scary and breath-taking, and Josh Brolin is an amazing actor constructing an excellent character. (Kelly MacDonald was also really good) For the rest, I'm sort of unimpressed. It's not that I disliked the film at all, I'm just feeling generally "meeeh". I was a bit disappointed by Javier Bardem (the ending strangely makes him more human, in how he asks kids for help), I just found him a bit too static. I don't really know what they Woody Harrelson character did in there - I loved the character (I think he was way more interesting than Javier Bardem) but if it's to kill him 2 scenes after introducing him, don't really see the point. I agree the violence (warning, the film IS super violent) seemed sometimes unnecessary, like when Brolin kills the dog following him out of the river, the scene really needn't be so graphic. But my main problem is I felt I missed what the Coen brothers were trying to do. The "flat" script is interesting, and after building up so much with the meticulous techniques of the hunter and the killer, I like the idea you'd simply miss the climax and there's simply no big meeting between the two guys. But for some reason it didn't work, and when you find out Moss is dead, I couldn't care less about it - even though I really liked the character.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 9 years
I have to disagree, tx-klo. I am a woman and I thought this was fantastic. So, ladies, just because it's not a "chick flick" doesn't make it a "guy movie."
tx-klo tx-klo 9 years
Ladies, DO NOT go see this movie. This is definitely a guy movie, and guys, THIS IS NOT a date movie. This movie is full of senseless, graphic, bloody violence and blood. There are absolutely NO FUNNY parts--not a funny remark or situation. You get 122 minutes of stressful tenseness, with a totally meaningless ending. This thing leaves a bad taste in your mouth. No good guy triumphs. Everyone you would root for ends up dead. This is a perverse movie. If I knew what this movie would be like, I would not have gone to see it. It left a huge black cloud of absolutely heavy, negative feelings on my and my old man's evening. I'm guessing my husband enjoyed all the violence, but he agreed (he's a safety man, so he naturally agrees with his lady) that the ending was a huge ? question mark and that the movie was totally dark and not entertaining at all.
Noodles-and-Waffles Noodles-and-Waffles 9 years
I thought this movie was brilliantly done. It will definitely be the talk of the Oscars. Javier Bardem was perfect for the role. And I agree with dcdawg, the ending was appropriate.
binkyob binkyob 9 years
This movie is amazing. I also didn't read the book, but I know two people at work who did and also saw the movie. Both of them said this movie was better than the book. I just thought it was one of the best of the year.
ana-isabel ana-isabel 9 years
I have to agree with you. I was so scared. I hadn't read the book so I didn't know what was going to happen next. I loved the movie, especially Javier Bardem
dcdawg dcdawg 9 years
Saw this movie this weekend. It was phenomenal. I feel like the ending was well done. It really makes you think about and analyze everything you just saw.
ricarocks ricarocks 9 years
i want to see it i want to see it i want to see it
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
Dying to watch this movie.
bellanatella bellanatella 9 years
Looks good.
krampalicious krampalicious 9 years
CANNOT WAIT!! the bf and i are going to see it thanksgiving weekend. we have different tastes in coen bros: we both like love classics (the big lebowski, fargo, raising arizona), but he prefers some of their more somber early work (miller's crossing, barton fink) and i'm more into their zany side (o brother where art thou?, the hudsucker proxy). i'm fairly certain we'll both be digging this one.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 9 years
I read the book and loved the story, but wasn't a fan of the way it was written. I'm sure the Coen Bros. really upped the pacing and suspense in this film. I'm dying to see it- thanks for the great review, Buzz!
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
Great review, Buzz. Cannot wait to see this one!
em1282 em1282 9 years
Nice to hear it was so good. Can't wait to see it! Javier Bardem is such an amazing actor--he was robbed for "When Night Falls" a few years ago.
princess_eab princess_eab 9 years
Can't wait to see this.... I will probably be freaking out in the theater because I am faint of heart... oh well!
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
Hey Whip — In comparison to all their other movies, No Country for Old Men is low on the Coen quirkiness scale. But Tommy Lee Jones definitely ups the quirk factor with his offbeat performance.
nicachica nicachica 9 years
My bf is dying to see this movie and so am i! Tonight's date night so i know what we're going to see! :)
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 9 years
My boyfriend saw this and LOVED it. I can't wait to see it, too. Buzz - did it have that typical Coen Brothers quirkiness?
kristyrk kristyrk 9 years
I can't wait to see this!
Zahara-Pitt Zahara-Pitt 9 years
i smell Oscar for this film
londongirl13 londongirl13 9 years
I really want to see this movie.
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