Written and Directed
by Joel & Ethan Coen
Running Time: 2:02
for strong graphic violence and some language.
No Country for Old Men was a good, but not great film with some all-star performances.
Deep in West Texas, Llewelyn Moss comes across a drug deal gone bad. Everyone is seemingly deal, with two million dollars in cash simply lying around. Moss decides to take it, thinking no one will come after him. Enter one deranged hitman by the name of Anton Chigurh. Chigurh has a heart of stone and will not let anything come between him and his prey. Meanwhile, Sheriff Bell is hot on the trail of both men, trying to save Moss from a certain death, and trying to capture the uncatchable 'ghost' in Chigurh.
Obviously by now everyone knows that No Country for Old Men won four Oscars including one for Best Picture. I caught the film the first time around the day before the Oscars (when I saw 4 of the 5 Best Picture nominees) and thought that it wasn't as good as either Juno or There Will Be Blood. I'll start off with what I did like. There's no question the film's strongest point is the acting of the three leads. Josh Brolin plays Llewelyn Moss, the guy who finds the money in the middle of nowhere. Brolin plays him as both a tough guy who figured he can outrun and out fight anyone, but one who is still scared and protective of his wife. It was a good year for Brolin between this film and his great performance in American Gangster and I feel he should have gotten more recognition during awards season.
Tommy Lee Jones was solid as always with his portrayal of Sheriff Bell. From what I understand, the character had a larger role in the book, which would make the title make more sense. I think Jones can probably play these roles in his sleep by now. Then of course there is Javier Bardem in what will likely become an iconic role, Anton Chigurh. I have a feeling this guy will become a Hannibal Lecter type persona - someone who is evil inside and out, yet someone you root for. You couldn't help but appreciate the man's style. Nothing would stand in his way, except of course for fate. Everything from his hair to his walk to his clothes to his simple manner of speaking was amazing. He completely deserved an Oscar because he steals the movie every time he's on screen.
Then there were the things I didn't like. We're dropped into the middle of a story, which isn't all that big a deal. Moss finds the money, decides to take it and is quickly and suddenly set upon by Chigurh. Not really sure where Chigurh came from or who he is. He's the man with no past yet it seems a lot of people know about him. The thing I hated most about the movie was Woody Harrelson's character who is introduced late in the film, has two scenes and then is killed. I could not for the life of me understand the point of that. If he was put there to show how demented Chigurh is, that point was made with the opening scene of the film. I also didn't really understand Sheriff Bell's character. The movie follows Moss and Chigurh for most of the film, with only small scenes of Bell commenting on what has already happened. Yet he is the final shot of the movie with a monologue that again serves no real purpose. As I said earlier, from what I've been told, his character had more importance in the book, but it would have been nice to see that translated into the film. To me, his character was third in the pecking order but he didn't have much to do with anything. His job was essentially to try and find the other two and he didn't succeed in either venture. I thought the story, as it was, wasn't anything all that new or exciting. The presentation was certainly well done, with great visuals and a dark and violent style, but otherwise I didn't think the film was groundbreaking in any way. It was good for certain, but not a great film.
The DVD only has three extras. One is called Diary of a Country Sheriff, which I didn't find all that interesting. One is about Working with the Coen Brothers, which is your typical documentary which has everyone saying how amazing they are and how they never argue. Nothing tremendous there either. The final doc is a making-of on the film, which was a little more interesting because we go in depth with the major characters and learn how they translated from the book to the screen. I think somewhere down the line there is going to have to be a Special Edition version of the film with a bunch more extras, because for a Best Picture winner, it's very light.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked No Country for Old Men, but didn't think it was the movie of the year. It has some strong performances but a story that has a few holes and some questions left unanswered.
Netflix DVD Rentals. Only $4.99 a month. NO LATE FEES; Free Shipping. Try for FREE!