No Country for Old Men

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No Country for Old Men
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

West Texas, 1980. Out hunting deer in the desert down by the Mexican border, Vietnam veteran Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) happens on a heap of carnage: torn-apart trucks, corpses of men and dogs, the bloody bodies of others who’d be better off dead, and a case packed with cash: about $2 million. With no witnesses, and confident he can handle himself, Moss opts to keep what’s clearly payment in a drugs-handover gone wrong, and treat himself and wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) to a life considerably better than their trailer-park existence. Trouble is, psychopathic hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) also wants the loot, and begins carefully hunting the hunter, in turn pursued by veteran sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who can’t help feeling the world’s turning more crazily violent.

The Coens’ first outright adaptation is of a Cormac McCarthy novel so attuned to them that the film feels – at least until the final few scenes – as if it’s based on one of their own original screenplays: ‘Blood Simple’ meets ‘Fargo’, almost. For all its fidelity to its source, however, it’d be wrong to think it merely an illustration. The Coens meticulously select the most filmic moments of McCarthy’s terse, gripping book; they trim the sheriff’s nostalgic reveries and philosophising, embellish and enhance the action, and succeed overall in transforming the novel’s economic descriptions into a full-blown world populated by vivid, plausible characters.

Most impressive, they find a cinematic equivalent to McCarthy’s language: his narrative ellipses, play with point of view, and structural concerns such as the exploration of the similarities and differences between Moss, Chigurh and Bell. Certain virtuoso sequences feel near-abstract in their focus on objects, sounds, light, colour or camera angle rather than on human presence. As in ‘Barton Fink’ or ‘Fargo’, the Coens prove that properly innovative artistry and engrossing entertainment can co-exist to utterly compelling effect.Notwithstanding much marvellous deadpan humour, this is one of their darkest efforts: Chigurh, especially, is a nightmarish creation, polite manners and pageboy bob perversely accentuating the volatility in his strangely logical head. Roger Deakins’ superb camerawork, top-grade performances all round, and understated, assured direction ensure the film exerts a grip from start to end. A masterly tale of the good, the deranged and the doomed that inflects the raw violence of the west with a wry acknowledgement of the demise of codes of honour, this is frighteningly intelligent and imaginative.

By: Geoff Andrew

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday January 18 2008
Duration: 122 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Screenwriter: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast: Woody Harrelson
Tommy Lee Jones
Josh Brolin
Kelly MacDonald
Garret Dillahunt
Tess Harper
Barry Corbin
Stephen Root
Javier Bardem

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3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:70
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:8
  • 2 star:13
  • 1 star:28
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Watched the film on dvd and enjoyed every minute up until the last ten minutes when the plot went pear shaped and it got confusing as to who had died and why. Maybe a remake with a clearer ending would make this a good film. Thought the main actor was the cop out of 'who loves Raymond' but he played the psycho part well.


The best Coen movie ever made in my opinion, which says a lot. It is suspense and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.


Well, if superb cinematography, taut direction, scintillating acting, plot, panorama, pace, fear, tension, horror, irony, wit and insight won't do it for you, then what will? This isn't a romcom or a chick flick. It stays faithful to a marvellous book. It makes its points brilliantly: when morality and money clash, money wins and bad guys do get away with it. This is a great film, one of the very best of the decade, with arguably the most terrifying villain ever depicted on celluloid. Javier Bardem is worth the admission money on his own.


"Anyway, as it won best film at the Oscars it is by definition appalling." You're "by definition" an idiot!


I loved this film. It was spare, it was subtle it was real, it was humane, it was brutal, it was a fantastic yarn, beautifully paced, beautifully and expertly shown on film. Brilliant. It deserved all the kudos it received. I could watch a film like this every day of my life and feel privileged to witness the skill and art of brilliant, all too rare, master movie-makers.


The comments on this site underline exactly the point the Coens are making in their film - but which sail straight over the heads of the growing number of humans whose only measure of a movie is "hey was I entertained...like I was when I saw Epic Movie, or Hot Shots. I was enthralled thru-out and the use of Tommy Lee Jones summation of the increasingly mindless people of the world - i.e. like those who couldn't see the brilliance of this movie let alone spell or write English - was stunning; it took me back to Barton Fink with John Turturro sitting on the beach with a box that may or may not have contained his girlfriend's head. We didn't need to know then - otherwise you have just another Hostel Part II - and thank God the Coens stuckc to their guns and didn't pander to the movie companies out there whose only goal is to make as much money as possible from the droves of people who forget what they saw the minute they walk out of theater, but insist that they had been entertained. The comments here show that this was a five-star rating - it made people think and react. My most brilliant experience watching this was when I realized I had seen maybe 20-30 minutes go by without a single word of dialogue - and indeed was thinking wow ! even Hitch must be impressed up there.


I'm totally surprised by all the viewer comments on this site. I saw No Country today for the first time and absolutely loved it. I checked Rotten Tomatoes and it's sitting at 94%, then I come here and everyone's saying it's crap? Did we watch the same movie? There is so much tension in this movie and the lack of a conventional musical score just adds to this. I was gripped the whole way through. The acting is superb, and the dashes of black humour are just right. Someone mentioned earlier that a truly good movie should grip you while watching and make you think afterwards, and this one did both for me. One more thing - stop moaning that we only see the aftermath of Moss's death rather than the death itself! The fact that Bell turns up too late and we experience the scene as he does makes it all the more powerful and hopeless. it's restraint like this that sets the Coen Brothers apart.


brilliant to see the Cohen Brothers film. Absolute fan of theirs, this film leaves you with more questions than answers. If you haven't seen a Cohen film before, leave you're expectations at home and just enjoy. Wonderful characters, acting and film work. Makes you jump! Loved it.


Anyone who says this is half a film is deluded, just take time to understand it properly...even if some loose ends aren't tied up, thats quite clearly the intention of the directors. The end of the storyline doesn't coincide with the end of the film, so to assume that the final scene is going to piece it all together is ridiculous. The whole film makes sense, but with some deliberate ommisions, which obviously threw of some of these jokers who are giving it crap reviews. Technically perfect direction and cinematography, incredible acting, perfect story line. One of the best films of the last 10 years.


Excellent film, was engrossed from start to finish, even though the ending was mind provoking, left it open to your imagination. Acting was superb as would be expected from these three fine actors. Really enjoyed


Brilliant film. Excellent acting and I actually like the ending - it makes a change to have a situation ending probably as it would in real life, rather than how we would like it to end.


I saw this film, and was amazed by it I want to see it again, only the very best of films can persuade me not to spend my money on alcohol, and this is clearly one of them. The acting is superb, the camera work is top notch and the lack of soundtrack compliments the tension in the film superbly. I also don't like to criticise other people's views but the people who say this film has no ending should really ask why they are watching a Coen brothers film. For example, nothing technically happens in The bif Lebowski, yet that film is superb. Also, the character development of Tommy Lee Jones' character makes this film for me, the decision to escape the inevitable consequences.... best film of the year, and its only February!!!


This is the second best offering from the Coan brothers, with the dark and moody effort not quite reaching the heights of the classic Millers Crossing. That i have rated this as one of there best though, for those who know and love there work, clearly proves what a master piece it is. It has taken the viewer back to where the Coans started with a film similar to Blood Simple yet far superior in production values and cast. If you find this boring and dull, slow and empty, then you are not looking deep enough into it, so if it is light entertainment your after avoid, but if its a film you will think about for a long while to come...enough said i think.


Nice to see the Coen Brothers get their act together again. Beautifully shot, tight plot, a propelling tension that made me clench up throughout, very well acted, but best of all - the central message of the film isn't just ladled out to us. I enjoyed having to think it out.


This is a brilliant film on many levels. I was initially skeptical about Tommy Lee Jones being top billed, but he was excellent as the sheriff at the end of his reign - the Old Man in changing times. Many people have criticised the ending. These people have been fed too much Hollywood happy ending garbage. Resolution is totally overrated - leave it up to your own imagination! This film leaves a deep impact and sparks thought and conversation. It is one of the best films I have seen for a long time and its beauty is in its simplicity, the depth of the characters and the cinematography.


superb, not in the last 10years have i felt such tension in a cinema, the lack of a soundtrack or fancy cutscenes goes to show this film did not need fluffed up at all. great depth dealing with issues of god, history, loved the two kids at the end highlighting the problems money causes.


This is an exceptionally well made film, the Coen brothers have done it again, edgier than Fargo but with a subtlety and well balanced plot which recoils from the tedium of good versus bad and wins the day. It is a tough, reality tale encompassing greed, honour and disillusionment with contemporary society. Chigur's atypical villainy and psychopathic morality is wonderfully acted and will haunt you long after the film has ended. If you love a happy ending you may not enjoy this film but cannot deny that it is brilliantly made, gripping, and exceptionally well acted from start to finish.


I hate to put other people down for their movie reviews (really, I do), but if you didn't like this film, all I can say is...you didn't get it. The acting, directing and cinematography are all awesome. This film was obviously too highbrow for some (although I can understand not liking it for violence reasons). The way it was shot, with very few camera changes (e.g. the car crash scene), made such an impact to the film. It made me feel depressed and melancholic for the rest of the day. Just a couple of hundereds of thoughts ive had on this film..it really stays with you. The biggest compliment I can give - Im off to see it again.


really enjoyed this movie and was well acted by all the central characters ,movie stays with you long after it's finished.don't some people get it that things don't always turn out for the good.


A great film with superb performances from all the leads, particularly Brolin and Bardem. A little unsatisfactory in the last 20 minutes, but nevertheless well worth seeing. Violent but nothing you won't have seen from the Coen Brothers or say Tarantino. Kelly MacDonald is worth a mention, with a good US accent!!


i got to the end and couldn't make sense of the film, until later on in the evening - i remembered the name of the film...need i say more?


Utterly superb. I liked it a lot. Great performances, a few twists and turns, a scary haircut and questions at the end. What more could you want from a film?


Among my favorite films are Independence Day and yes even the first Star Wars. But No Country leap frogs all of them. It is the perfect film, but not for those weaned on Road Runner cartoons. I actually feel sorry for those who don't get it. Your life is less for that.


fantastic , completely "leftfield" , unexpected, well paced, highly enjoyable total cinema experience, beautifull cinematography, well directed and acted, so what if the ending wasn`t to some people`s liking, i loved it ...i`m off to see it again..


The Coen brother's are back with a bang, their best movie since Fargo, best film I've seen for a long time, don't miss it.


Did she or didn't she? I think she did, he checked the soles of his shoes at the door, for blood?


simply not to be missed, one of those movies that grow on you day by day, after watching it.. full of dept, and serious acting!


I am glad that i didn't let all the negative reviews on this site put me off going to see this movie. I am no fan of mindless violence and "Sugar" is a brutal villain but this is a visually stunning, beautifully lit and at times amusingly scripted movie. Great, see it.


As great as the first 90 minutes are I reluctantly add my voice to the chorus that feels the ending was quite unsatisfying.


You know I actually enjoyed this film especially the film making element


The second seemingly universally well reviewed film I have seen this year (following `The Kite Runner`) that I have found as flawed as it is accomplished. Much of it is interesting and Anton Chigurh is a truly memorable "bad ass dude" but the narrative does not flow easily and the film seriously loses its way in the final half hour. Like much of the Coen Brothers` work, there is a coldness and peculiarity about the characters which make it extremely difficult to identify with any individual.


This has to be the most boring film of the year. All the right ingredients are there for a corker but it spends too much time thinking about itself and lets the atmosphere drain away like a slow puncture. truly truly awful and will probably win a hatful of oscars because it has literary critical acclaim. does not deserve an invite never mind a win. sorry.


Do not listen to the fools below. This film is really good. The ending is a bit disappointing, which is why I give 4* instead of 5*. Those comments about it being e.g. long, slow, boring - it's supposed to be like that. The whole point is that they're all country people. It's funny - get a sense of humour or go and watch Alien vs Predator Requiem. Perhaps the senseless violence in that will be more in tune with your intellect?


Shit, shit, shit and finally shit, Ethan Coen & Joel Coen have possibly created their worst film ever. I was looking forward to watching "No Country for Old Men" as I am a big fan of ‘Barton Fink’ and ‘Fargo’. I felt totally disappointed not to mention let down by this Slow, totally gutless excuse for a film. Is the piggy bank running low on funds boys? On the up side there were moments when I thought, ok this could be interesting and lead somewhere, but sadly the seed never grew. My advise to you hard core Coen fans is, don’t waste your money, wait until it is available to rent on DVD. The rest of you don’t bother.


This Film is PANTS!!!!! it isnt worth the 2 hours that it is on... Guys really dont waste your time, money, or petrol getting to see it!!!! its just plop of mess stuck together to try and create a film, i could have done better with some sticky tape and PVA glue!!!! Totally disapointed in Tommy Lee Jones as he does good films generally


I feel as though the makers of this film owe me something, if not for the atrocity that is this film but for the hours of my life that I wasted watching it. Guns, violence, bloody deaths... all the elements of a brilliant film were there but somehow they were lost among the tedious monotony and dragging scenes. And seriously, what kind of ending was that?


Saw this as a surprise preview at the Curzon just after Christmas. I doubt I'll enjoy another film more this year. I agree it fizzles out just at the end but it doesn't spoil the experience


Saw this as a surprise preview at the Curzon just after Christmas. I doubt I'll enjoy another film more this year. I agree it fizzles out just at the end but it doesn't spoil the experience


Starts off good and does have some story line however many scenes drag. I generally felt annoyed that i paid £8 to go and see it especially when it just all of a sudden ended. Not the best film i have ever seen!!!. Really don't know how it got four stars.


A masterpiece, one of the greatest experiences I've ever had in a movie theatre. I'm just wondering what kind of film Time Out reserves its hallowed sixth star for if not for the likes of this.


A masterpiece, one of the greatest experiences I've ever had in a movie theatre. I'm just wondering what kind of film Time Out reserves its hallowed sixth star for if not for the likes of this.


started out promising.....became totally confusing and disjointed.....in fact lacking ..........


A "literary" movie (sigh), where words compete with action, thoughts with deeds(what time is it?), based on the book by the "celebrated" author of "All The Pretty Horses," Cormac McCarthy, a pseudoliterary Jim Thompson who spends more words describing plant life than people (yawn). Nothing happens: Lurch goes around brutally blowing people away, corpses pile up, as wrinkle-faced Sheriff Tommy Lee Jones sits on the sidelines, philosophizing, pondering retirement. Hackneyed plot (mind if I scratch my butt?): An innocent stumbles upon a cache of drug money and for the remainder of the movie is pursued by various bloodthirsty interests (the plot of "All the Pretty Horses" was just as derivative, adorned pulp). The only thing new is the murder weapon. Abstracted noire: distilled, pure, tasteless. If you expect the exact mixture of the macabre and the absurd which made "Fargo" such a delight, forget it. Not here. Nope, this is just a plodding never-ending Stalk, self-consciously heavy with Texas drawl and circumspection. Oh yes, Cormac, wannabe Faulkner, the road implacably goes on forever (yawn), good and evil will forever tussle; yes (sigh), there is no end in sight, no point or reason. The profundity is as flat as a Texas highway, and just as monotonous. Well made, with attention to physical detail, to atmosphere, like a nice frame without a picture.


This was the surprise film at the London Film Festival which I saw last night. It was AMAZING!!!!!! It's kinda like Blood Simple and Fargo crossed with Terminator. Incredibly tense, edge of your seat suspense and unpredictable, unconventional story telling. Great performances. By the end you feel so constantly surprised and edgy from all the surprise turns that all you can do is expect the unexpected. The Coen brothers back at the top of their game. And what a great treat for the surprise film - one of the best films of the festival!


This was the surprise film at the London Film Festival which I saw last night. It was AMAZING!!!!!! It's kinda like Blood Simple and Fargo crossed with Terminator. Incredibly tense, edge of your seat suspense and unpredictable, unconventional story telling. Great performances. By the end you feel so constantly surprised and edgy from all the surprise turns that all you can do is expect the unexpected. The Coen brothers back at the top of their game. And what a great treat for the surprise film - one of the best films of the festival!

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