No Country for Old Men

If you are into starkly drawn portraits of evil surrounded by imperfect beings who are just trying to get ahead, you will like this movie.  Javier Bardem plays Anton Chigurh (chigger) so well that I think he is probably an evil guy in real life.  Not the character, I mean the actor.  He just simply out-evils everyone else.

Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss comes upon a drug deal gone bad and appropriates the money ($2 mil) from a dead man’s hands.  He hides it, and out of a sheer moment of Coen Brothers madness returns to the scene which gives Chigurh a bead on his identity.  From that moment on Chigurh, unhurried, enjoys the chase as much as he wants the money–perhaps more.  He dogs Llewelyn’s every step.  Llewelyn, for his part, believes he can outwit and outrun Chigurh. but  he is mistaken.  Chigurh’s life is the chase;  the game of tracking and either killing, or allowing Chance the privilege of mercy since he has none himself, is why he exists.  Woody Harrelson as bounty hunter Carson Wells can’t beat him;  the banker type who has invested in the drug deal can’t beat him;  how foolish of Llewelyn Moss to imagine that he can.  Of course all the other principals know or know of Chigurh and are properly wary, but Moss doesn’t really understand what he is up against.

I will give it to Ethan and Joel Coen for drawing such a compelling portrait of evil, and for some snappy directing and intelligent writing, but they don’t seem to know how to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end.  This is simply a slice of life.  Nothing changes for those left standing.  Tommy Lee Jones lives to be yet another lawman like his classic Marshall Sam Gerard of “The Fugitive,” though older and more curmudgeonly, and he survives this bloodbath so I am sure he will play this role – which he now seems to have a lock on – again.  Come to think of it, he is about the only character of any import who is left standing.

The Coens do not shy away from violence.  In fact, considering the body of their work, one might conclude that they are about violence.  Ultimately, if you want to be entertained, try something else, unless unspeakable, irrational, horrific violence floats your boat.

Javier Bardem is properly nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar, and the Coens are also reasonable nominees for best director.  Not thrilled with the best picture nomination, but as I haven’t seen a decent movie lately, the field is pitifully sparse.

Not destined to reign in time as more than a violent slice of life movie which few will want to see for a second time.  That is how I judge a good film.  One I like to watch again and again.  One that stops me in my tracks when I catch it  while surfing on TV and stay with it until the end.  Movies like “Shawshank,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Star Trek II,” “The Wizard of Oz.” 

“No Country for Old Men” will not cause me to skip a beat in my surfing when it is rerun.