Thursday, December 13, 2007

No Country For Old Men

The Cohen Brothers finally created a perfect companion piece to Fargo. It's been six or seven years since their last good movie (The Man Who Wasn't There), and they are back in full force. No Country, adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name, teams of up the brothers with Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, Josh Brolin, Kelly MacDonald, and in perhaps the most terrifying role ever- Javier Bardem. This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, but despite its recent Golden Globe best picture nomination, I don't see it holding up against an all around powerhouse like American Gangster.

This ultra-violent, tex-mex flavored movie features a winning ensemble cast. Brolin stars as Llewelyn Moss, a simple blue collared worked who stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong. In addition to several bodies, he discovers $2 Million. This sets into motion a cross country chase with Anton Chigurh (Bardem), a cold blooded killer hired to retrieve the money. Tommy Lee Jones stars as Sheriff Bell, a third generation lawman, functioning as the observational voice much like Frances McDormand's character, Marge, was in Fargo. Bell is continually one step behind Chigurh, forced to pick up the pieces in his trail of destruction. Harrelson makes a short appearance as Carson Wells, another hired gun, this time sent to track down Chigurh who is now considered unreliable.

The violence aside, this is a very interesting study on human nature. Why do people act the way they do? Chigurh has a certain twisted set of morals. Despite all the pain he inflicts, he always is true to his word. Moss perhaps the most human of any of the characters, tries to do what's best for him and his wife (Macdonald), short of giving up the money that is. Bell is very similar to Morgan Freeman's detective in Seven. He's waiting out retirement, jaded and stoic.

Like all of the Cohen's movies, this one is filled with razor sharp wit. Throughout there are expertly crafted conversations with lines such as:

"That's very linear sheriff"
"Well, age will flatten a man."

"Just how dangerous is he?"
"Compared to what? The Bubonic Plague?"

"You've seen him? And you're not dead? Huh."
"Who's this guy supposed to be, the ultimate badass?"
"Well I don't think that's how I would describe him."
"Well how would you describe him?"
"Well I guess I'd say he doesn't have a sense of humor."

These are just a few of the brilliantly written lines, brining in a sense of humor to an otherwise very dark movie. At its core, it seems that No Country for Old Men is about the cruelty of the world, and the progression of time. As time goes on, life gets meaner and meaner. As was spoken in the movie: "You can't stop what's coming." Even if we don't understand this, we have to accept it.


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