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Paramount Vantage

Official Site

Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen

Producers: Scott Rudin, Joel and Ethan Coen

Written by: Joel and Ethan Coen from the novel by Cormac McCarthy

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin


No Country for Old Men is a different sort of Coen Brothers’ movie. Conspicuously absent are the quirky conversations, offbeat personas, and the, you know, funny looking actors. In their place are nail-biting tension, graphic violence, and social commentary. No Country for Old Men is firmly grounded in a place and time much more down to earth than their other movies and yet it may seem equally as otherworldly as their other works if you’re not from Texas. More specifically south Texas, near the Mexico border, 1980.

Steve Buscemi’s desperate need to fill the air with “complete fucking silence” or the inane ramblings of The Dude and his bowling team have been replaced with terse questions and laconic replies. The few lengthy conversations are so noteworthy that one party will even go so far as to point out the other’s loquaciousness. The natives are friendly, impeccably polite, and amongst each other extremely honest.

The movie gets started when LLewelyn Moss (Brolin) discovers a bunch of bodies and two million in drug money while hunting out in the bleak Texas landscape. Of course the mob wants their money back and sends their top man, Chigurh (Bardem), a psychotic hit man who is as ruthless and unstoppable as the Terminator, but for his humanity he is an even more terrifying villain. The only person who can try to contain the violence is Sheriff Bell (Jones) a good old boy who remembers a time when sheriffs didn’t even need to carry guns on the job.

The movie does an excellent job with building suspense with a minimal use of background music. Llewelyn’s peril as he is hunted by Chigurh is palpable as the hit man’s bullets whiz by his head. Some of the movies more tense moments are the product of people being friendly and polite to Chigurh, thinking him to be just one other passer-by, while the audience can only hold its breath knowing him to be the grim reaper.

Today I often wonder about the militarization of law enforcement and the necessity of so many of what seem to be redundant law enforcement agencies, but after having watched No Country for Old Men it is easy to see how unprepared this country was for the wave of drug violence engulfing it and how to the old guard it could seem as if the whole world has turned upside down. With heaps of bodies and an unstoppable cartel determined to move its product no matter who suffers, Sheriff Bell and his peers are as powerless to stop the cartels as they are powerless to stop young folks from dyeing their hair green and sticking bones through their noses.

In many ways No Country for Old Men is a western in reverse. Instead of the rugged country being tamed by civilization and do-good lawmen, the law can only helplessly observe while the fabric of civilization is undone by drug dealing bandits. It is a time of transition, and if those changes were taking place in 1980 then where are we now?

—Woodrow Bogucki

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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