By Sean Gardner
No Country for Old Men is written and directed by the Coen Brothers and is based on the Cormack McCarthy classic of the same name. This is one of my favorite films of the past 15 years. With a stellar cast all giving excellent performances, nearly perfect writing and directing, it is no surprise that it basically swept the Academy Awards for 2007 with eight nominations and four wins.
The Coen Brothers have forged a unique style for all of their films. They are highly versatile directors with a diverse filmography. Yet No Country for Old Men fits right in with all of their other works. It is an instant classic in every sense of the phrase. The cinematography beautifully depicts the harsh landscape of west Texas and treats the environment like a character in and of itself. It is by far their most violent film, evidenced by the opening scene where an unsuspecting Sheriff’s deputy meets his end courtesy of the morally twisted Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem).
The film follows Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a hunter, welder, and all around “good ol’ Texas boy” who stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong while hunting. While exploring the scene, he finds a bag full of cash. He takes the money without realizing the carnage that will ensue. Moss is being chased by Chigurh who is a hitman of sorts hired by the drug dealers to get the money back. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is always a few steps behind the two, trying to make sense of all the dead bodies Chigurh leaves in his wake.
As the title suggests, the Coens explore themes of living in a misunderstood time and place. Every character in their own right is an “old man” without a “country.” Chigurh has an accent that is clearly not Texan or even American. The clothes he wears and his atrocious haircut make it look like he is trying to culturally fit in, but he is obviously failing. His “moral code” (if you could call it that) is so skewed that it probably wouldn’t fly anywhere. Moss is unsuspectingly thrust into the world of cartels, hitmen, and federal officers. He has to improvise in intense situations to stay alive. Sheriff Bell, an older man, is living in an unrecognizable time of so much emotionless brutality, that he doesn’t know how to do his job or even who he is anymore.
Not enough can be said about how well made this film is. It is all around one of the best films in recent memory. It the best the Coen Brothers have ever done and it is one of my all time favorites. I would highly recommend No Country for Old Men to all movie fans.