Within the first ten minutes of the film, we see the tone it will keep: barren of hope, calmly violent, and intriguing. The Texas desert landscape and few and far between characters make the film feel lonely and isolated, like it was raised this way to become a quiet and unsettling person.
You’re not feeling too warm and fuzzy are you? And you won’t watching this movie.
In No Country for Old Men, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a hunter stumbles upon a horrific multiple murder scene. It’s a drug deal gone wrong and Llewelyn finds a bag full of money. He takes the money, but is soon pursued by Anton (Javier Bardem), who’s planted a tracking device in the bag.
In the second scene of the film, Anton calmly chokes a police officer to death with his handcuffs on the station floor, leaving scuff marks all around them in the struggle. (I now count this as one of my favorite murder scenes, thanks Coens!) It’s clear that Anton is a psychopath, the menacing kind that will kill anyone with no remorse. Listen carefully for a little story about a kid who killed a fourteen year old girl in the film, I believe this describes Anton’s first brush with the law, though it is never explicitly told.
Javier Bardem must’ve had a lot of fun playing Anton (villains are often more fun to play than the hero). His voice is menacing and creepy in a calm and natural way, unlike Bale’s Batman growl. One of the scariest things about Anton is that he’s nearly quirky. Think about it, take his stupid haircut, the end of the coin toss conversation and rolling down the window to shoot at a bird on the bridge and you’ve got quite a quirky guy, but of course we put the psychopathic murderer upfront with good reason. It’s no surprise that Bardem won Best Supporting Actor “for making a bad haircut look scary.”
So, Llewelyn has the money, is running from Anton, Anton is leaving a senseless trail of blood behind him as he follows Llewlyn and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is always just a step behind Anton. Bell is an aging Sheriff, he’s proud of his work, but is fed up with how fucked up the world has become. “Who are these people? It’s all out war.” The messed up stuff he has to deal with has become more than he bargained for. He’s becoming more and more disillusioned, he thought things would only get better as he got older. In short, he’s getting too old for this shit. This ain’t no country for an old man.
I think we can all agree that No Country for Old Men is a complete downer. In fact, four of the five nominations of 2007 are, I believe John Stewart said it best, “Thank God for teenage pregnancy!” There are some people that just plain wouldn’t like this movie. There is a lot of violence. Senseless, psychopathic, blood on the walls violence that is never brought to justice, and for many people I understand what a moral killer that is. If you’re one of those people, you’re better off watching Juno five times. But if you can stomach it, No Country for Old Men is a really amazing film. The Coen brothers know what they’re doing and if you let them lead you into this horribly violent and lonely world you can still come out to be a normal functioning person in society.
“What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”