Review: “No Country for Old Men”

No Country for Old Men is the best movie I’ve seen from the Coen Brothers. Naturally, it’s about a psychotic killer with a high-pressure air gun looking for stolen money, and another guy who stole the money running from the guy with the air gun.

I normally don’t care much for the way the Coen Brothers use lethal violence in their movies, but in this case it’s fascinating and compelling because it’s so cinematic. It’s a pleasure to watch the craftsmanship that goes into it. And it’s not all for show. The images and the subtle details work together to create a story and a weird reality that takes you for a ride and leaves you thinking, “What the hell was that?” It’s a crime drama, a thriller, a comedy and a morality tale, and it’s entertaining. (A detailed analysis and discussion of the film on Jim Emerson’s Blog.)

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

6 Replies to “Review: “No Country for Old Men””

  1. I haven’t seen this movie but it is based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy and the imagery put out by McCarthy in the book was graphic so I imagine the Coen brothers wanted to be true to the book.

    McCarthy’s excellent novel “The Road” is being made into a film with a release date this fall – its even more disturbing. It will be interesting to see how that one translates into film.

  2. I read and liked The Road. I read the novel No Country for Old Men too. I enjoyed it but based on its violence I wouldn’t want to see the movie.

  3. I didn’t find the movie too violent. A few people get killed, but it’s done in a way that’s powerful, creepy, perhaps a bit disturbing, but not exploitive.

    Watch Javier Bardem as a psychopath in this movie and then in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” He is the character in both movies, and they couldn’t be more different. The guy can act.

  4. Bardem’s “Shigur” was just flat-out bone-chilling! His was one of the most inventive movie villains I’ve seen in a very long time! This bad guy who’s utterly plausible and has such a creepy, emotionless resolve – he’s exponentially more horrifying than any slasher baddie.

    The convenience store scene had me so bound up – just teetering on the edge of the couch, wincing in agony over what was to come – was as masterful a scene as I believe I’ve ever seen. The directors manipulated you to ratchet your own tension up by what you think you know will the be outcome of the old man’s clueless banter with the devil. Truly, masterful.

    But I was a bit put off by the abrupt and unsatisfying ending. Maybe if I’d read the book it might’ve had more meaning, but it just sucked all the wind out of my sails. I don’t necessarily need a Hollywood happy ending, but I do need a bit more than what they gave. Not sure what exactly, just more.

    And I couldn’t quite figure out why the Coens went to so much trouble to capture the stark, authentic beauty of the West Texas rural landscape and towns, but their portrayal of El Paso felt more like a vintage Las Vegas. And Odessa (at the end) was not right at all. I’m sure that few viewers were familiar enough with this city in the armpit of Texas to know that it didn’t look right, but as an Odessa resident, it was a bit jarring for me.

  5. I haven’t seen the movie, but the convenience store scene in the book was hauntingly effective. Sounds like they pulled it off in the film.

  6. This movie is the best that I watched recently. The plot is very original and intriguing. I was surprised by the fact that Tommy Lee Jones did nothing during whole movie, he was just appearing here and there, but he didn’t affected development of story at all.

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