This Week in Movies: No Country for Old Men

Andrew Burford

Following the Coen Bros’ three Academy Award wins for their film No Country for Old Men, including Best Director(s?), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture of the Year, it seems appropriate to spend this week’s column on that particular masterwork, rather than ramble on about some early March release that most people will likely forget by the summertime anyways (Semi-Pro comes to mind). After such critically-acclaimed films as Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen return to the screen with their best and most prized film yet, which tells the tale of a drug deal gone wrong and a manhunt that surfaces out of its failures. Faithfully adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same name, No Country for Old Men is simply one of the best films of the year and, although I disagree that it was the best film of the year, I certainly do find it to be near perfect.

The film follows the stories of three different characters who, oddly enough, share little to no screen time together throughout the film. Llewelyn Moss, as played by Josh Brolin, is a hunter that comes across a briefcase containing approximately two million dollars cash from a botched drug deal somehow connected to Anton Chigurh, a frighteningly psychotic and dangerous killer brilliantly played by the talented Javier Bardem. Though much of the film focuses upon the manhunt between Chigurh and Moss, part of it is left for Sheriff Ed Tom Bell as well, played by Tommy Lee Jones, who is forced to investigate the situation and uncover any and all information leading to an arrest.

What made No Country for Old Men near perfect? It is rather challenging to pinpoint a single contributing factor, as it was, again, nearly a perfect movie. Nevertheless, I can think of two aspects that left a particularly notable lasting impression in my mind. First was the acting, which was impeccable all around. Javier Bardem took home an Oscar for his portrayal of the sinister Anton Chigurh, which was well deserved, and although Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin were not nominated for their roles in the film, I personally would not have hesitated to vote for them myself. Second, however, was something that only truly great movies are able to flaunt when all is said and done: a theme universal to life and to all humankind. No Country, for one, deals with the issues of luck and chance in crime, wherein “there are no clean getaways” (which happens to be the tagline of the film’s marketing campaign) for even the most talented and lucky of evildoers.

Though I would have preferred there to be a little more music at certain points, it still goes without question in saying that the film holds enough tension and excitement to keep the audience glued to the screen. And as for the ending, well, you’ll have to see it for yourself to decide how perfect or how horrible it is. Let’s just say that, for those fans that prefer the comfort of closure at the end of a movie, No Country’s ending might deliver them something along the lines of a heart attack.

Still, No Country for Old Men should be seen by all, regardless of taste for a fitting conclusion. It sincerely is one of the best film achievements of 2007. Thumbs way up.