Accountant: Are you going to shoot me?
Anton: That depends, do you see me?
In my opinion No Country For Old Men is to the Coen Brother’s as the Departed is to Martin Scorcese. Both films are absolutely outstanding and deserve their Oscar wins but they should not have been their director’s first win. The Coen Brother’s first Oscar Best Picture win should have come from Fargo and their second win should have been for the brilliantly shot, acted and directed No Country For Old Men.
No Country for Old Men is a chase. The entire film is a single chase that continues to escalate and get completely out of control. The catalyst for the film long chase is a discovery made by Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) while hunting. In what seems to be a drug trade gone bad, Llewelyn finds a number of dead bodies and a bag of cash. Llewelyn takes the cash and drugs, heading home to convince his wife, Carla Jean Moss (Kelly Macdonald), to leave town. Eventually figuring out that Llewelyn has the money, the psychopath Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is sent to recover it, leaving a path of death and destruction in his wake. Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson) is also hired to recover the money but uses less violence and is much less successful. Local sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who is appalled at the growing violence in the area follows the mayhem, attempting to stop and ultimately figure out what’s going on.
I have always seen Coen Brother films as comedies or dramas. A lot of drama bleeds into their comedies and a lot of comedy bleeds into their dramas. No Country for Old Men is a drama and one with almost no comedy in it. No matter what Coen Brother’s film you see it is always filled with outstanding performances. Both Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones both give outstanding performances but the star of the film is Javier Bardem, giving a truly terrifying performance. In a film featuring characters that can all be classified as loners, Anton is not only a loner but a complete outcast. A psychopath that has the inability to have a normal conversation with anybody, Anton decides if those he meets lives or dies by a flip of a coin. His weapon of choice is either a silenced shotgun or a portable machine used to kill cows by blowing out their brains. Anton is one of my favorite cinema villains of all time.
There are many different aspects of this film to analyze but one of the most interesting is the soundtrack because there is not one. Throughout the entire film there is no score or background music. While on paper this idea seems to make a very boring film it actually had a very interesting effect on screen. I have already said that this film is one big chase and the lack of music adds to the intensity of the chase. Coupled with the Coen Brother’s dark filming style, the lack of music allows the audience to focus on the intensity built into the filming, writing and acting. There are no outside influences to distract from the chase and the fight for survival.
This film was a masterpiece. Though it starts with an uncomplicated plot it becomes complicated as the cast of eclectic characters meet and interact. This film is a prime example of what great work the Coen Brother’s do. Every piece of the film is carefully calculated to help tell the story. Not only beating out Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton and There Will Be Blood for Best Picture, No Country For Old Men also earned the Coen Brother’s an Oscar for Best Directing and Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay. Javier Bardem won a well deserved Best Supporting Actor. This gets an A rating from me, a unique and absolutely outstanding piece of cinema.