No Country For Old Men
Today, I’m keeping it modern with The Coen Bros memorable, Oscar winning, 2007 film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, No Country For Old Men…a film with a remarkable atmosphere and one of the best villains depicted in recent years!!
One of two more recent westerns in the Coen’s catalogue, along with 2010’s True Grit remake…it shows that the brothers really know how to make a western…even without any classic Coen cast members.
The main cast, firstly, is excellent. Josh Brolin as Llewellyn Moss is stunning in his portrayal of a hugely fearful man, being hunted down by a ruthless hitman after stumbling upon $2million at a drug deal gone wrong…you really feel terrorised along with him. Despite this, Brolin, portraying this terror, also brilliantly plays a slightly dim, yet quick thinking man who tries his absolute best to overcome the situation that has fallen on him while still trying to come out on top. Tommy Lee Jones also excels in a perfectly coasted role as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell who tracks down both Llewellyn and Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh, the hitman. A flawed man, he is beautifully brought to the screen by Jones whose heavily emotional face brings out the interior flaws within the character with ease and offers for some hauntingly deep and emotional moments.
Saying all this…these two excellent performances are overshadowed by the unforgettable, mesmerising Bardem as Chigurh. A man so ruthless, he decides whether to kill people on a coin toss. He stalks around the beautiful landscapes, killing at will, with an eerily calm and casual nature to him. From his first scene, we see how brutal a character he is after choking a man to death whilst in handcuffs and from then on in doesn’t get less violent. His air gun will be talked about by movie fans for decades to come as will his haircut of course…one of the more well known (but not for any good reason) movie hairstyles of recent years.
Bardem brings a delightful charm to Chigurh also, making you almost root for him in his destructive pursuit of Brolin’s Moss…a worthy winner of the Supporting Actor Oscar and definitely one of the most memorable and ruthless killers we’ve seen in a good few years.
Moving on to the atmosphere of the film, that, like Bardem’s performance, is highly eerie and quietly intense. The severe lack of any background music throughout nearly the entire film is key to creating this intense (too quiet) atmosphere and works to perfection. This might not be as stylish as other westerns but it is definitely as compelling…the narrative really immerses you in itself and it’s difficult to take your eyes off the screen.
While not as stylish as other westerns, it’s definitely as well made but like I’ve previously said, stylishness is very important for me in truly loving a western film. Not to take anything away from the quality of the film at all…it’s still a great film…not The Coen’s best in my opinion…that honour would go to Fargo or The Big Lebowski…but still a film well worth the watch.
Not one I love, but one I very much like.
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Another Western Tomorrow