No Country for Old Men – the Movie

Sometimes, especially on a weekend, I will take a few minutes between tasks and flip through the channels, and I’ll stumble upon a movie I had no intention of watching, only to be drawn in.

Usually this happens with old classics that I have seen many times over, like Rambo – First Blood, Die Hard or the ever satisfying Shawshank Redemption. Generally I do not get drawn into a movie I have never seen before or one that I had reservations about watching. But it happened today.

No Country for Old Men has a reputation of being extremely brutal and violent. I usually shun such movies because I don’t want to desensitize myself to violence. It’s a good movie, even though I asked myself when it was all done what the hoopla was all about. Why was it up for so many awards?

It was written and directed by the Coen brothers, the same guys that did Fargo, and it has a Fargo quality about it. This plays in Southern Texas, and it revolves around a drug deal gone bad, very bad, and the characters that revolve around it. A hapless hunter by the name of Moss stumbles upon the grisly scene where everyone is dead, and left is a truckload of cocaine and a suitcase of money. He takes the money, and thus starts a  manhunt for him. Then there is the serial killer Chigurh who hunts him for the money.  There is a sheriff and a bounty hunter. The plot moves along from scene to scene, and I do not find myself able to turn away from this story. It is masterfully woven, the suspense and the terror drawing me along.

Chigurh is pure evil. Moss is a bumbling country bumpkin in way over his head. Strange characters in an even stranger world.

Then I figured out that this is based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. Well, now it makes sense. See The Road and Blood Meridian here and I understand why there is so much violence, so much terrible brutality. McCarthy has a different mind altogether.

Rating: ***

2 thoughts on “No Country for Old Men – the Movie

  1. Eric Petrie

    The movie does present Chigurh as pure evil, a kind of variation on Hannibal Lector from “Silence of the Lambs,” a psycho-killer.

    But the book is different, and much better. Only the opening scene presents the violent killing of the police officer, and Chigurh later regrets it. Chigurh and Moss are both products of the Vietnam war, of a war that had no god in it, as the narrator tells us.

    This is the world of Nietzsche, after the “death of god,” and it is about promise-keeping. It asks a most serious question for non-believers: why ever keep any promise that you make, if it does not benefit your self-interest and if there is no God to reward your virtue or punish your vice?

    Both Moss and Chigurh have an answer that they developed in that war. And the book, I believe, is about their confrontation–not just the gunfight that does and then does not happen. It is about how they deal with a new world and its challenges. Moss will not kill unless as a last necessity, because “everbody’s somethin.”

    Chigurh kills because he acts as a kind of grim reaper, bringing life to an end, or occasionally, with the flip of a coin, holding off. In either case, he acts like a kind of god, or like the hand of some god, remains true to his word, and in that way creates a kind of destiny in a landscape that seems completely empty of such a thing. It is a very thoughtful book, and I recommend it.

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