I would like to imagine that the Coen brothers’ decision to make No Country for Old Men happened while both were sitting enjoying a morning cup of coffee at the breakfast table, and that the conversation went like so:
“Don’t you think it’s about time we attempt to make the best movie ever?”
“I reckon it is.”
Is No Country for Old Men one of the best films ever made? I wouldn’t say you were wrong if you believed it was. The thought, effort and detail can be seen in every frame, giving it a timeless essence. In fact, because it carries such a classic feel, it’s hard to believe it was released in 2007. So while you’re grabbing your coat and tying your shoes to rush out and witness the next showing of what I have likely already over-hyped, I’ll give you a short synopsis of what makes this film so interesting.
While out hunting in the Texan countryside, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) happens upon several dead bodies from what appears to be a shootout from a drug deal gone wrong. He also happens to find a satchel filled with two million dollars. Not realizing the consequences that could result, he takes the money. Now he is being pursued by dangerous people, including the mysterious Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), while Sherriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to make sense of it all.
Based on that synopsis, I know nothing about it sounds remotely unique. In fact, the plot honestly seems as though it could have been pulled from a B-list action movie. But in reality, I have oversimplified the screenplay based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name. The story is incredibly engrossing and can easily be distinguished from any other movie.
One of the most immediately impressive aspects when thinking about No Country is the acting. These actors embody their roles so completely that the audience will forget there was any acting at all. It is more like the characters are actual people, and the Coen brothers happened to conveniently be around with cameras set up in perfect positions to film the action that might ensue.
If there is one name you will be hearing a lot of when people talk about this movie, it will be Javier Bardem. Even when he is not onscreen, Bardem’s presence is always felt thanks to his terrifying performance.
Even though Bardem is getting all of the attention, Jones and Brolin do more than just hold their own. Actually, I am fully convinced that when he is not acting, Tommy Lee Jones is a sheriff in Texas. Or, at least he should be.
But great acting alone will not make a great movie. Great acting combined with the Coen brothers’ directing talent typically will. Somehow, Joel and Ethan Coen transform the dry, lifeless Texan landscapes into a world of suspense. Moviegoers who appreciate suspense films from the days of yore should find a lot to like here.
Multiple scenes will have you wondering if Hitchcock came back to life to lend a hand with some of the more intense moments. One scene in particular recalls a certain suspense classic that will undoubtedly leave you holding your breath.
One of the most interesting choices in the production of No Country was the decision to not include a score or soundtrack. The lack of music lets you appreciate the real tension created instead of the loud and sudden dissonant music in other movies that makes you jump from sheer aural shock. If you’ve been waiting for the next big suspense classic to arrive, wait no longer. It will likely leave the theaters soon, but No Country for Old Men won’t soon be forgotten.