To The ‘Country’ and Back
One of the important things to keep in mind when seeing an Oscar-caliber movie (sorry, Enchanted, you don’t count), is knowing what you are looking for.
As simple as that sounds, a lot of times when these Oscar nominated films are released, there is often a lot more than just the plot which needs to be accounted for.
Themes, cinematography and characters all defied the overall story of No Country For Old Men.
Of course I made the mistake of watching the movie simply for the plot, so after watching it yesterday, I did what I almost always do after seeing a movie of that nature: I went on Wikipedia and read up on the movie.
In addition to one of my most trusted sources (thank you Wikipedia, my professors may doubt you but I never will), I also like reading professional reviews to see what I might have missed.
The dilemma I had with No Country was that at the end of the movie, I was left both disappointed and confused.
Without giving away too much for anybody who hasn’t seen it yet and is interested in doing so (and I recommend you do with proper expectations), here is what I can tell you.
The Film begins with us hearing the voice of Tommy Lee Jones, who plays Ed Tom Bell, a sheriff in a small West Texas town close to the Mexican border. He is talking about the world is becoming a more violent place around him. We then for the first time are introduced to the Javier Bardem character Anton Chigurh, who is being taken back to a local police station. Anton has with him a strange looking device that resembles an oxygen tank with a chord attached to it, which (according to my guys at Wikipedia) is actually a Captive Bolt Pistol. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is, but the thing kills instantly with a single shot. It is also used by Anton to open locked doors by suctioning out the lock itself with pressure. While at the station, Anton kills the police officer who brought it up by strangling him, all without breaking a sweat.
We then meet the third main character of the movie, Llewelyn (Josh Brolin) Moss, who is out hunting. He comes across a drug deal gone bad, as lying before him are dead bodies and blood all around. He finds one man still barely alive, asking for water, which Moss is unable to provide. He then finds a huge stash of drugs, along with 2 million dollars in cash. He brings it home, only to have his conscious tell him to return to the scene.
Big mistake, as he is seen by others looking to claim the cash, and he narrowly avoids being killed, escaping with the cash. This begins the cat and mouse, hunter and hunted game which keeps the movie thoroughly entertaining and incredibly suspenseful for the first two thirds of the film.
The film had great acting across the board. I’m not sure if Bardem was worthy of his Best Supporting Oscar, but he put in a very solid job as the very creepy, very emotionless hitman Anton. Tommy Lee Jones was his usually great self as sheriff Ed Tom Bell. A relative unknown to me, Josh Brolin was in my opinion the star of the movie as Llewelyn, as he was this cowboy with a conscious who also happened to be relentless in his defiance of Anton’s pursuit of both he and his wife.
There was plenty of blood, yet I would stop short of describing the film as particularly gory. The suspense during the first half of the film was as good as it gets, however like I said, don’t hold out for or get your hopes up for an ending you think you would either expect or predict.
Because I was ignorant and only seeking out a Hollywood plot, I was left disappointed when the movie ended. I don’t want to give anything more away, however if you are looking for a movie with a big bang ending, look elsewhere.
The movie was great if you’re a fan of the Coen brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski), and also if you’re looking for terrific directing with all that “artsy” stuff, for lack of a better term.
After doing my research after watching the movie, I gained an entirely new appreciate for it.
Among the things I found interesting which I would recommend you look out for while watching…
(From Wikipedia…so trust at your own discretion)
” motifs of chance, free-will, and predestination…fate and circumstance”
“Numerous critics cited the importance of chance… focusing on Chigurh’s fate-deciding coin flipping”
“…points out that Chigurh, Moss, and Bell each “occupy the screen one at a time, almost never appearing in the frame together, even as their fates become ever more intimately entwined.”
And regarding Javier Bardem’s Anton Chirgurh…
“Death walks hand in hand with Chigurh wherever he goes, unless he decides otherwise … if everything you’ve done in your life has led you to him, he may explain to his about-to-be victims, your time might just have come. ‘You don’t have to do this,’ the innocent invariably insist to a man whose murderous code dictates otherwise. Occasionally, however, he will allow someone to decide his own fate by coin toss, notably in a tense early scene in an old filling station marbled with nervous humor”
When I began writing this review, I was planning on talking about how overrated this movie was, and to an extent it was.
While I am hardly in a position to judge what a truly great film is with my limited experience watching movies relatively to how long they’ve been making them and awarding them, if a movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture required that I read up on it afterwards to understand it’s full significance and appreciate it the way the filmmakers intended me too, I’ll have to hold back on showering it with gushing words of praise.
That being said, I think it is a movie you should definitely rent, and just make sure you make sure you know what you’re getting into when watching it.
Otherwise, wait until Friday when Horton Hears Who! comes out.
No Country For Old Men- B+
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