No Country for Old Men – Film review

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No Country for Old Men – Film Review: 4.7/5.0 stars

“No Country for Old Men” was one of two films that I saw on the plane from Dubai to Paris, both of which featured Vietnam veterans. And, I was totally surprised by the strength of this film since I hadn’t read up about the film ahead of time.

The New York-based Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan) have created a powerful film noir style that is masterfully applied to No Country for Old Men. Having just been on safari in Kenya, observing the ouster of the “older males” among various animal species, one is reminded of the pitiless nature of Nature.

Directors of Raising Arizona (whacked out comedy), The Man Who Wasn’t There (film noir) and the whimsical Barton Fink, the Coen brothers are returning to American cinema what generic Hollywood is taking away: superior plots, unpredictability and thought provocation.

No Country for Old Men
, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy (which I never read), was released in November 2007. Among the clever parts to this film is the ability to express extreme violence without necessarily showing it. And, among the finer surprises, evil is not vanquished…if anything, it is insidiously starified. And, with all three main characters’ lives intertwined yet rarely overlapping (physically), you never really know who the “hero” is. And the ending is designed to make you reflect. There is no gratuitous happy ending in NCFOM.

Featuring non-standard actors for Coen films, NCFOM has, all the same, a strong cast:

  • Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (for Whom the Bell Tolls?);
  • Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss (the man who never quite makes it);
  • Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh (pronounced so close to sugar you can taste it);
  • Kelly Macdonald as Llewelyn’s wife, Carla Jean Moss;
  • and, finally, a somewhat unbelievable Woody Harrelson as Carson Wells (the supposedly toughest SOB bounty hunter).

Amply recognized, No Country for Old Men was honored with numerous awards: three British Academy of Film awards, two Golden Globes, and four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

See here for a slew of other “official” reviews of the film (4.6/5 on average). Definitely a film to see when you are not feeling down, though.

3 Comments, RSS

  1. Bob

    Enjoyed your review of NCFOM — thought you were right on. I liked the way that the film really catches you in the gut at the end — while it’s clear that Tommy Lee Jones carries the moral weight of the story, it’s handled subtly so that his breakdown at the end is both surprising, yet completely believable. There’s real gravitas at the end — reminds a bit of ‘Traffic’ in the way they handle the function of the Benicio Del Toro character.

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