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Overall Rating
4.44

Awesome70.97%
Worth A Look: 16.13%
Just Average: 4.03%
Pretty Crappy: 3.23%
Sucks: 5.65%

7 reviews, 82 user ratings


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No Country for Old Men
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The Coens' best since 'Miller's Crossing.'"
5 stars

Anyone reading 'No Country for Old Men' as a thriller about good vs. evil is a little short of the mark, I think. To me, it’s a Zen koan about life and death.

The koan issues forth from the lips of Cormac McCarthy, the grizzled master who won the Pulitzer this year for his post-apocalyptic fable The Road. McCarthy’s prior 2005 novel — named after a line in a Yeats poem — serves as the basis for this film, a sharp return to seriousness for Joel and Ethan Coen after some larking around. The Coens’ movies often feature desperate men committing crimes, and also important characters perishing offscreen. McCarthy’s book has both, so it’s as if he wrote it for the Coens. They have responded with a fully alert film of quiet and considerable power that is only incidentally about finding two million dollars of drug cash and trying to run away with it.

Such a circumstance befalls Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin), trying to pick off antelopes in the Texas desert when he spots a blood trail in the sand. It leads him to the money, along with much flyblown death. Llewellyn makes off with the suitcase of cash, sending his wife (Kelly Macdonald) off to her mama’s house and dodging the bad men who want the money back. One of them is the baddest of bad men, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who travels with a captive bolt pistol, the sort used to punch holes in the hard skulls of cattle. Chigurh has an unplaceable southwestern/Latin accent, as if he emerged from the Texas/Mexico border itself, sent by the very earth to monitor the troubles of humans and occasionally end them.

In what amounts to a supporting role elevated to the status of moral center, Tommy Lee Jones walks uneasily through the movie as Ed Tom Bell, a sheriff close to retirement. Ed Tom feels social entropy in his bones: he observes that, once you stop hearing “sir” and “ma’am,” that’s when you know it’s over. The sheriff wants to find Llewellyn, to save him from certain disaster, but Llewellyn doesn’t want to be found. Chigurh will find him regardless; he always does. Tommy Lee Jones lets his voice go soft and high, almost feminine. He’s like Lillian Gish in Night of the Hunter, taking arms against casual savagery in defense of innocents, but without her gumption. The older Ed Tom gets, the more he feels the inevitability of Chigurh’s triumph.

As you may have gathered, No Country for Old Men is artsier and deeper than most anything else the Coens have done, with the exception of the willfully cryptic Barton Fink and the masterpiece Miller’s Crossing. Here they bring all their monkish technique to bear: there’s hardly any music, but such sounds as an air tank lightly settling on pavement and a candy wrapper uncrinkling itself on a gas-station counter dominate the soundtrack. The action begins in sun-baked majesty but eventually retreats into shadowy motel rooms. The story is set in 1980 but, less a few details, could unfold in 1880. Chigurh keeps coming, an art-house Michael Myers, and Javier Bardem instills him with a diabolical calmness. He’s not a psycho, not a monster, not the Devil: he’s a much bigger figure, Death itself, and there’s not much life around to rise in resistance to him. Nor would life, in the end, trump him anyway. Bardem’s Chigurh is patient, never showing even a flicker of anger; he’s the most frightening thing I’ve seen in a movie in a long time.

The film left me feeling slightly fatigued and fragile, but wanting to see it again. The Coens, like McCarthy before them, use a thriller structure to cut to the heart of the big mysteries. What can life mean if it ends? Does it mean more or less? Chigurh sometimes offers people a coin toss to determine whether they end or go on. One person complies, not understanding the gravity of the offer; another refuses, perhaps on the grounds that life and death shouldn’t be a game for one man to decide.

'No Country for Old Men' tracks various people chasing after money or security, the things that are supposed to keep us happy and ward off darkness, but which mean so little that the pursuit of these things doesn’t even guarantee you an onscreen death. This is the blackest film noir in years, and a great American movie.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16240&reviewer=416
originally posted: 11/25/07 17:15:38
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
5/20/15 stanley welles muscular, exact and thrilling 5 stars
12/07/10 Dennis Excellent film; you have to view it more than once. 5 stars
11/12/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess A decent flick, but doesn't compare to the Coehn bros. older films 3 stars
6/10/10 Flathead King A very entertaining film. 5 stars
5/31/10 User Name Once you open Pandora's Box, there's no stopping what comes spilling out. 4 stars
4/17/10 PAUL SHORTT COMPELLING AND WELL ACTED BUT LACKING IN SOUL 2 stars
3/04/10 dennis engelke kept me one the edge 5 stars
7/07/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* You have to watch it 3 times to finally say...ok this movie isnt that bad 4 stars
5/10/09 R Lan Repeating what everybody was said. A very good movie that was hurt by its ending. 4 stars
5/06/09 MP Bartley A tightly wound, precisely measured and overwhelmingly cruel masterpiece. 5 stars
3/25/09 mariah great movie but wasnt best movie of '07... 5 stars
1/26/09 LYNDON DOWLING FARGO....WITH A TWIST..... THE COPS DO NOT WIN ALL THE TIME, EVEN IN HOLLYWOOD. ACE CAST. 5 stars
1/08/09 Anonymous. chigurh was one of the weirdest movie killers ever. 5 stars
12/06/08 TheViper Stunning achievement, have watched it over and over. 5 stars
11/24/08 brian Has everything but a satisfying resolution. 5 stars
9/21/08 Charles Tatum Well done, but too many "Coenisms" 4 stars
9/17/08 Stu Amazing film with one of the BEST ENDINGS ever. Wildly entertaining and deeply haunting 5 stars
8/17/08 jonathantstorm ending sucked 1 stars
8/11/08 Jon G Definition of a Man Flick 5 stars
8/03/08 Saravanan Srinivasan Yet another brilliant stuff from Coehn Bro.Fantastic acting by Javier Bardem &Josh Brolin 4 stars
7/22/08 Ivana Mann That ending makes a Zen riddle look like a first-grade math problem. Absolute poo! 1 stars
7/14/08 Matt I know I'm not going to be popular for saying this...but this is a shower of crap. 1 stars
6/21/08 AnnieG Although not very unique, this film has some good lines and characters. 3 stars
6/11/08 Jayson One of the best. Ever. 5 stars
5/12/08 Yo Mama if that crazy cracker Javier came to my hood i'd pop a cap in his ass!!!!! 5 stars
5/05/08 Phil M. Afficiando Watch the bonus material first especially "Diary of ...". to appreciate the film itself 4 stars
4/27/08 guisada awesome 5 stars
4/13/08 Colleen Cousineau Terrible ending, other then that, a great thriller 5 stars
4/13/08 DG Based on Chaucers - Pardoner's Tale. Chigurh is death 4 stars
4/09/08 ravenmad i tell you, it was javier's hair cut that creeped me most. Awesome film. Intense. 5 stars
3/25/08 Mike Nice thriller, terrible ending, what in the HELL was {that} all about 4 stars
3/24/08 action movie fan no country for action fans-okay story, but too slow 2 stars
3/21/08 Joe Smaltz started out pretty good but ended with out an ending 1 stars
3/19/08 Nick T Riveting though the ending caught me by suprise but it made me think about the events 5 stars
3/18/08 The real ED Ed bob - people like you should have life violently revoked. Call it.. friendo. 5 stars
3/17/08 AD Moss represents Bell's father - 20 years younger than him, get it? 5 stars
3/17/08 RF Great movie. Brillantly Intense and brilliantly acted. Well deserved Oscars. 5 stars
3/16/08 Amit One of the few films that has value, only people with some intelligence can appreciate it 5 stars
3/16/08 Danny I have no idea what happened at the end. Overrated. 3 stars
3/15/08 Julie Total waste of time!!! 1 stars
3/13/08 Mr Hype Good... but the hype is silly, and undeserving to say the least 4 stars
3/12/08 daniel wolfe ending let me down,,,,,,great for 3 / 4 's of movie, but boring ending !!! 4 stars
3/08/08 Freddy A solid, involoving film that seems to lose impetus in the last 20 minutes 4 stars
3/05/08 Louise A well-made and gripping film - such a shame about the weak ending! 4 stars
3/02/08 ladavies The Coen brothers at the Oscars...idiot savants?? Great movie! 5 stars
3/01/08 mormor613 Not good for my blood pressure, but worth it 5 stars
2/17/08 ang Anton Chigurh one of the best villains/Great Movie but ending was crappy! 4 stars
2/11/08 Monday Morning Riveting, but seemed to end early - I missed closure on several plotlines/characters 4 stars
2/11/08 Stefan Great acting but uncanny and towards the end, totally unrealistic plot 3 stars
2/02/08 ad instant classic 5 stars
2/01/08 Quigley A masterfully crafted film. Will go down as an American classic and a Coen Bros masterpiece 5 stars
1/29/08 ronp the ending sucked. left too many doors opened. the rest of movie was powerful 4 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic Brutal and intense, its an enigmatic, metaphysical mindgame 4 stars
1/24/08 Mike O I don't know what the big deal is. 2 stars
1/23/08 synthman Another high water mark from American geniuses 5 stars
1/22/08 mr.mike Fairly weak ending keeps it from a 5 star rating. 4 stars
1/17/08 Buttley Great Film, extremely suspenseful and wonderfully acted. Enjoy your Oscar, Javier. 5 stars
1/12/08 JamieD Starts off masterfull, then limps toward the end and dies. 1 stars
1/05/08 NatalieH I loved everything about this film, the sountrack, Javier Bardem & Tommy Lee Jones acting! 5 stars
12/31/07 hardy campbell I am obsessed with this film, and I am NEVER obsessed with films. 5 stars
12/26/07 Vagile Superb 5 stars
12/25/07 Ed Bob Sucks big harry donky balls 1 stars
12/17/07 Tim O'Donnell Great movie--captures a great book 5 stars
12/13/07 Mike Erickson Suspenseful, Violent, and Funny - How they accomplished this I dont know 5 stars
12/10/07 Shawn Best picture of the year 5 stars
12/08/07 Edward Great - taking my son - it will be talked about years later. 5 stars
12/07/07 orpy Wildly entertaining! I love that bad guy! 4 stars
12/04/07 ES This will be a movie people look back on and think- ok, maybe it wasn't that good after all 3 stars
12/02/07 Bnorm Great movie, wonderful villain and is violent witouth being gratutious. the ending was bad 5 stars
12/01/07 george1039 Everything and I mean everything a movie should be 5 stars
12/01/07 Michael Thoughtful, violent, riveting. Brilliantly acted. 5 stars
11/30/07 Jefenator Joel & Ethan: Quit now - you'll never top it! 5 stars
11/27/07 bucslim The "I don't get it" crowd doesn't get it 5 stars
11/26/07 Patrick Go see this movie, now!!! 5 stars
11/26/07 Ole Man Bourbon A lot of fun to follow these characters. Classic movie. 5 stars
11/25/07 john wow, Mr. Brooks and Hannibal step aside, eh..thoughtful, fun, masterpiece..so fine 5 stars
11/24/07 David Vivat Flat and nearly incomprehensible 2 stars
11/24/07 R.W.Welch Neat script and villian. Trails off some towards the end. B+ 4 stars
11/18/07 Sully Javier Bardem=Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, he's that scary 5 stars
11/11/07 DonnyM Instant Classic. Cohen bros hit oil. 5 stars
11/10/07 reddye5 See this film!!!! That's all you need to read. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  09-Nov-2007 (R)
  DVD: 11-Mar-2008

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