No Country For Old Men

  • 2008-02-06
  • by Tim Ochser

MANHUNT: Dead bodies, money and Mexico. What more could you ask for in this latest box office hit?

Director: Ethan and Joel Cohen

Am I the only one who feels that "No Country for Old Men" is not quite the masterpiece that so many critics have made it out to be?
Don't get me wrong 's it is a very good film. But I suspect the real reason why it has attracted so much praise is because of the general woeful state of mainstream moviemaking. Even the most mediocre movie can seem extraordinary compared with Hollywood's increasingly facile factory-line productions.
Having said that, don't let my little rant put you off. "No Country for Old Men" is a compelling, powerful and beautifully shot film that deserves to be seen.

Set amid the vast, eerily empty landscapes of Texas, the landscape itself is an important part of the narrative. While out hunting deer, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles on a load of dead bodies in the middle of the desert. It appears that a group of drug dealers shot themselves in a Mexican standoff, leaving Llewelyn to walk away with a suitcase containing $2 million.
Someone then hires Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) to hunt down Llewelyn and retrieve the money and the two men play a deadly game of hide and seek that takes them across the border into Mexico, while the ageing Sheriff Ed Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) does his best to keep up.

"No Country for Old Men" is certainly ambitious in scope. Ostensibly a thriller, the movie delves deep into the fractured American psyche through its central characters.
Llewelyn is a simple but decent man who understandably wants to take advantage of his unexpected windfall to provide a better life for him and his wife, Carla (Kelly Macdonald).
Ed Bell's weary, time-worn face reflects his profound confusion and disillusionment with modern life. Bewildered by the stories of senseless violence he reads about every day in the newspapers, he just wants to take early retirement and get away from it all.

But most memorable of all is Anton Chigurh. Javier Bardem has created a cinematic icon in Chigurh, a man of truly terrifying menace. Given to killing people with an oxygen-propelled gun, he occasionally allows his victims to toss a coin for their life by calmly telling them to "Call it."
For me, money is the recurring motif that really brings "No Country for Old Men" together and is at the heart of this nightmarish, almost apocalyptic vision of an America that quite simply makes no sense. 

Opens Feb. 8 in Estonia and Latvia and Feb. 22 in Lithuania

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