Film: No Country for Old Men

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Film:

No Country for Old Men

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Miramax

The story begins when Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) finds a pickup truck surrounded by a sentry of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law—in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell (Jones)—can contain. As Moss tries to evade his pursuers—in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives (Bardem)—the film simultaneously strips down the American crime drama and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines.

No Country for Old Men is a mesmerizing new thriller from Academy Award® winning filmmakers Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, based on the acclaimed novel by Pulitzer Prize winning American master Cormac McCarthy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones. Featuring a cast that includes Academy Award®-winner Tommy Lee Jones ("The Fugitive," "Men in Black"), Josh Brolin ("Grindhouse"), Academy Award®-nominee Javier Bardem ("The Sea Inside"), Academy Award®-nominee Woody Harrelson ("The People Vs. Larry Flynt") and Kelly Macdonald ("Trainspotting"), No Country for Old Men is written for the screen and directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, produced by Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen & Joel Coen and executive produced by Robert Graf and Mark Roybal.

Reviews

Amazon.com

The Coen brothers make their finest thriller since Fargo with a restrained adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel. Not that there aren’t moments of intense violence, but No Country for Old Men is their quietest, most existential film yet. In this modern-day Western, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a Vietnam vet who could use a break. One morning while hunting antelope, he spies several trucks surrounded by dead bodies (both human and canine). In examining the site, he finds a case filled with $2 million. Moss takes it with him, tells his wife (Kelly Macdonald) he’s going away for awhile, and hits the road until he can determine his next move. On the way from El Paso to Mexico, he discovers he’s being followed by ex-special ops agent Chigurh (an eerily calm Javier Bardem). Chigurh’s weapon of choice is a cattle gun, and he uses it on everyone who gets in his way—or loses a coin toss (as far as he’s concerned, bad luck is grounds for death). Just as Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a World War II vet, is on Moss’s trail, Chigurh’s former colleague, Wells (Woody Harrelson), is on his. For most of the movie, Moss remains one step ahead of his nemesis. Both men are clever and resourceful—except Moss has a conscious, Chigurh does not (he is, as McCarthy puts it, “a prophet of destruction”). At times, the film plays like an old horror movie, with Chigurh as its lumbering Frankenstein monster. Like the taciturn terminator, No Country for Old Men doesn’t move quickly, but the tension never dissipates. This minimalist masterwork represents Joel and Ethan Coen and their entire cast, particularly Brolin and Jones, at the peak of their powers. —Kathleen C. Fennessy

Related Works

Book:No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy

Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, instead finds men shot dead, a load of heroin, and more than $2 million in cash. Packing the money out, he knows, will change everything. But only after two more men are murdered does a victim’s burning car lead Sheriff Bell to the carnage out in the desert, and he soon realizes how desperately Moss and his young wife need protection. One party in the failed transaction hires an ex–Special Forces officer to defend his interests against a mesmerizing freelancer, while on either side are men accustomed to spectacular violence and mayhem. The pursuit stretches up and down and across the border, each participant seemingly determined to answer what one asks another: how does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?

A harrowing story of a war that society is waging on itself, and an enduring meditation on the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies, No Country for Old Men is a novel of extraordinary resonance and power.

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