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No Country for Old Men Movie Poster

No Country for Old Men: Movie Review

Four and a Half out of Five Stars
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller, Western
Rated: R
Directed by: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Garret Dillahunt, Tess Harper
Released by: Miramax Pictures

Running time: 122 minutes
Year: 2007

In Short: The Coen Brothers (of "Fargo" and "O Brother" fame) get deadly serious with this practically perfect adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy modern Western novel of the same name.

A Whirlwind Ride Across the Desert

The Coen Brothers Deliver Another Big Winner

Joel and Ethan Coen have been making distinctive films since the thriller "Blood Simple" first hit screens in 1984, followed by mostly comedic gems including "Raising Arizona," "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Intolerable Cruelty." Now, with "No Country for Old Men," the brothers have returned to the dusty Texas landscapes and serious subjects that made "Blood Simple" such a memorable film.

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men

This time, the story unfolds across the sere desert landscape of South Texas, circa 1980. Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a trailer-living blue-collar welder, who, while out hunting one day, comes across the scene of a drug deal gone bad, complete with dead bodies, a pickup truck full of heroin and a briefcase packed with over $2 million. As Moss tries to figure out what to do with his find, he realizes he is being hunted by the money's owner, a violent force of nature named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Meanwhile, local sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), one of the "Old Men" of the title, begins to search for Moss and Chigurh, as the two men quickly leave a wide swath of often-senseless violence behind them.

At first glance, "No Country for Old Men" seems to be a gore-filled look at the sort of story we've all seen before. As the film's incredible images and characterizations unfold, it reveals itself as a deeply philosophical look at the seemingly random reality of modern violence, while addressing the painful fact that brutal aggression against one another has always been a fundamental element of the human condition.

Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men
Kelly Macdonald in No Country for Old Men

Bardem gives an incredibly chilling performance as Chigurh, the killer who arrives in a whirlwind of brutality and embodies the randomness of death: some that cross his path live, while others are murdered unceremoniously, with little rhyme or reason. He's sure to win an Oscar nomination, as may Tommy Lee Jones, for his understated take on a sheriff who feels that the times have passed him by. And Josh Brolin may just get a nod as
well, for his completely believable turn as a man thrust into danger because of a random opportunity to get rich quick.

The best thing about "No Country for Old Men" is how much it makes you think about it after the final credits begin to roll, for it is a brilliant film that haunts one's psyche. Pondering the themes of the story is almost as interesting as watching the movie, an experience that is woefully lacking after most of today's throwaway flicks. This one is a keeper, and one you'll probably want to see again, in order to take in all the subtle nuances you may have missed the first time out.

 

 

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

 

 

Find tickets and showtimes on Fandango.


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(Updated: 12/21/12 CT)

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