Blast From The Past: No Country For Old Men
Well, we took a break from our “Blast From the Past” series last week to discuss summer movie releases, but today we’re diving right back in with the Oscar winner for **Best Picture from 2007, No Country For Old Men. Set in West Texas in 1980, written by the Coen brothers, and starring Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin, it had all the working pieces to be an Oscar contender. With all of that said, it is the combination of the aforementioned contributors, the story we follow, and the themes presented that ultimately make the film the success that it was.
The story begins with narration from Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, played by Tommy Lee Jones, where he rues the increase of violence in the area where his family has been sheriff for years. The film then quickly moves to Javier Bardem’s character being picked up by a local cop. He is apprehended, and while in the station, he kills the officer without any hesitation. We continue to see Bardem’s character, later called Anton Chigurh, as a hitman who kills without any remorse. We are also introduced to Llewelyn Moss, portrayed by Josh Brolin, hunting in the deserted Texas landscape. It is here that he comes across the remnants of a drug deal gone wrong. He does not help the lone survivor, and instead, he takes the $2 million he finds there. Chigurh is initially hired to retrieve the money, but after killing his clients, he pursues Moss and the money for himself. What enfolds is an incredibly tense game of cat-and-mouse as Chigurh pursues Moss; meanwhile, Sheriff Bell and others also pursue both men.
I remember that I watched this movie ten years ago, and while I remember thinking it was terrifying, I didn’t remember all the details. All of those thoughts were renewed as I watched it for a second time this week. The performances in this are stunning, and while all of the main cast and supporting characters give convincing performances, it is Javier Bardem that truly stands out. Since this film he has gone to play some convincing baddies in Skyfall and even the new Pirates film, but nothing compares to his role in this. He shows no emotion when he kills; he plays mind games with potential victims, and he uses a captive bolt pistol of all things. I’ve never been more terrified of concentrated air in my life.
The Coen brothers have written and directed some great films in their time, but this one stands toward the top of the list. The pacing is consistent, and even in what could be considered slower parts of the movie, the tension remains. Every scene constantly leaves you asking the question, “Who will make it out of this?” Many of Chigurh’s interactions leave you with thoughts about fate and circumstance; Moss’s actions make you consider what you would do in a similar situation. In this story, you cannot help but be appalled by the violence incurred, but you also understand that this story lives up to its title. This isn’t a country for old men at all.
So, if you’re looking to revisit another film that hit a ten-year milestone, I have to recommend No Country for Old Men. Coincidentally enough, it is now streaming on Netflix. Obviously, this is a film littered with violence and themes of mortality and fate, which the Coen brothers were somewhat known for after other films like Fargo, so I would keep that in mind in terms of audience. This film is 122 minutes of tension and catching your breath, and it is a story that is just as captivating now as it was ten years ago.
**Technically, No Country for Old Men won the award for Best Picture in 2008. However, it was for outstanding film achievement in 2007.