No Country For Old Men : The Film - The Book
Please allow me to introduce to you a couple of men.
LLEWELYN: The first man is called Llewelyn Moss (John Brolin), and he is an ex-army vet with one hell of a problem on his hands.
You see, one day, he comes across the aftermath of a drug deal that has gone terribly wrong. He sees dead bodies sprawled out all over the ground, as well as finding, and then taking, a large suitcase full of money back to his wife, Carla's (Kelly MacDonald), place.
Later that same day, Llewelyn goes back to this aftermath purely out of curiosity to see what else he can find there. Big mistake - because on this occasion, he is attacked by the bandits associated with this dubious scene, and just about manages to get away from them with his head still attached.
ANTON: Now the second man I would like you to meet is called Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). He is a murderer who has recently escaped from prison, and he has now been hired by the bandits to retrieve the money from Llewelyn.
Using his own dubious ways, Anton is able to track down Llewelyn on numerous occasions. However, Llewelyn is a very dubious customer all in all, and in each case, he slips from Anton's grasp by the very skin of his teeth. Although, upon one of their latter encounters together, anarchy ensures, where bullets fly – passers-by get shot – and both men stagger away from this scene a little worse for wear.
Anton seeks help by raiding a pharmacy. And Llewelyn seeks help by shrouding himself before passing out within the Mexican boarder.
THE SHERIFF AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER: Whilst all this is going on, two additional men enter the fray, and start pursuing these initial two men in turn. The first one is none other than Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones),who tracks down Llewelyn’s wife, Carla, to warn her of the danger that her husband is in. Whereas the second man is the arrogant bounty hunter, Carson Wells (Woody Harrelon), who finds Llewelyn in a Mexican hospital bed, and likewise warns him of the danger that he is in – namely, Anton.
Well, I suppose that is why what next transpires is a right turn up for the books I can tell you. As dead men tell no lies - confrontations are in the skies - aftermaths are a difficult to watch - and the fate of mankind is discussed over a bottle of Scotch.
Not the beginning – not the end – just the way of the world.
OK, I know that this might sound like a strange thing for me to say, but 'No Country for Old Men' is a very strange movie to review. Now please do not get me wrong – it is a great movie – but at the same time it tries its best to contradict this fact also.
Well, in a subliminal manner, it is actually two films in one.
You see, the first part of this film is a rather bold and dynamic pursuit film, in which person A is hounded by person B, whilst person C and D pursue the pursuer’s. Moreover, the structure of this piece is somewhat reminiscent of a sixties spaghetti western in places, where people do not speak that much, and the action drives the plot.
However, over half way through the film, the plot changes suddenly, and it becomes a story about the new and the old. I find that this is highlighted within the final monologues that Tommy Lee Jones character conveys, and in a supple way comments on what happened in the first half of the film.
Honestly, the only thing that both parts of the film have in common, are the pace, the style, and the great acting.
Now where the pace and the style is concerned, for me, it is very similar in tone to the great filmmaker, Sergio Leone, in the way that the tension is gradually built up in each scene, and the result is very fast, rapid, and quick, bordering on the vague. And as for the acting style on the other hand, well, not only do all the actors involved play their parts extremely well - especially Javier Bardem, who is one of the meanest son of a bitch I have ever seen on screen - but they effortlessly all seem to meld in with the style and the plot too.
As I said before, 'No Country For Old Men' is a great film - and one that not only makes you think, but it also makes you wonder about what the ending is all about. When the sudden surprise springs upon you, from then on in you are wondering to yourself “Is that it?”. But then, if you stop to think about it for a moment or two, and really listen to what Tommy is saying in places, it all kind of makes sense in a round about way. Because are we as 'spectators' so conversant with a structure of a film, that we just presume that the ending is going to end like all Hollywood productions? The director’s, the Coen Brothers, does not think so - which is why they gave us something that is not so a-typical, but is thought provoking.
Here, have a look at some of the flimic facts to see what I mean: (1) Heath Ledger was going to play Llewelyn in this film, but decided to take some 'time off' instead. (2) This film was transcribed nigh on word for word from the Corman McCarthy novel of the same name. (3) The title 'No Country for Old Men', is from a poem called 'Sailing to Byzantium' by W.B. Yates. (4) Javier was not that keen on the hairstyle that the Coen brother's gave him for this film, stating that he would not get laid for over two month because of it. (5) Josh Brolin broke his shoulder in a motorcycle accident two days after winning the part in this film, and was going to turn down the role. (6) Some of this film was shot near another film 'There Will Be Blood', in Marfa, Texas, and were both leading contenders for the Academy Awards a year or so later. And (7) In the novel, set in 1980, Sheriff Bell says to the dope-dealers "A while back in San Antonio they shot and killed a federal judge". In 1979, Federal Judge John Howland Wood was shot and killed in San Antonio by Texas free-lance contract killer Charles Harrelson, who was the father of actor Woody Harrelson.
Ouch! 'No Country for Old Men' is a must see film, because even though the ending is strange, it is due to this said same fact that it will make you think. Right, Anton?
THE RATING: A