The Coen brothers are two of my favorite directors of all time. The amount of time and detail that they put into every frame, every character, and every bit of dialogue is truly remarkable, and No Country for Old Men is no exception. Fargo is great and all, but I gotta say, there is nothing really quite like this. There’s a reason that it took home 4 Oscars, one being Best Picture.
There is so much to love in this movie from a cinephile’s standpoint. If you really love and appreciate good filmmaking, then you’re going to love this movie. This film is beautifully shot through and through and the cinematography is fantastic. You really feel the dark, dirty grit of every situation being ground into your head in each scene.
Javier Bardem’s Chilling Performance
Now anyone that knows me, knows that I love a good villain, and No Country for Old Men offers one of the greatest. Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh is probably the best part of the movie (outside of the beautiful camera work and story telling). Anton is the true embodiment of death and chance. He kills without compassion or remorse; plus why wouldn’t you with a haircut like that? Even though this character could have been quite one-dimensional, he isn’t. This murderous psychopath’s unpredictability and ghost-like history makes him the most spellbinding and interesting character in the movie. Much like Dr. Hannibal Lector, one cannot take their eyes off of him every single moment he is on screen. Everyone’s performance in this film is great, but Javier is the clear standout in this film.
Coen’s Mastery of the Scene
What really elevate these performances is the Coen’s writing and direction. This screenplay is exceptional, the dialogue is excellent, and the direction itself is phenomenal. All the brilliant uses of tension in this film are due to the Coen’s mastery of the camera. There are some magnificent shots in the movie that I could watch over and over again, and they are the true essence of suspense. I found myself holding my breath I don’t even know how many times throughout this film; most notably a scene involving a coin toss. Again, we can thank the Coens for their skill behind the camera and in the editing room.
I don’t actually have any qualms with the ending to this film, but believe it or not, it was generally ill-received. It is a little ambiguous, sudden, and offers no no real sense of closure to to the story. I think this is just classic Coen brothers writing and matches the message of the movie. Life if isn’t a fairytale, and we don’t always get a happy ending. Leave it to the Coen’s to say “screw that” and break the mold. I think it’s great, but I completely understand why people may not think the same way.
It’s a Slow Burn
This is another element that I don’t actually have a problem with, but I can understand why some may think this movie is a bit of bore. While it is a bit slow at times, it’s a purposeful slow. The Coens take the time needed to build each scene and elements of the story. Without this slow build, the most satisfying scenes would not have the punch that they have. Nonetheless, if you’re in the mood for a crazy, mindless action hero experience, you should probably give this film a pass (just know that you’d be crazy to do so!).
- Javier Bardem is an absolute revelation in this film. His performance is an instant classic.
- Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones give very real performances as well.
- Even the extras do a stellar job.
- The Coens show us just what fantastic filmmaking looks like.
- There are some truly stunning shots in this film.
- Every scene is masterfully crafted and executed.
- Scenes are cut together perfectly and create so much drama and tension on screen.
- The cinematography is excellent and makes every scene that much more gritty and realistic.
- Sound mixing and editing is also a standout in this film and is used very well. (I’m very curious as to how they made the sound of that shotgun!).
- Effects are very realistic and gruesome.
- I’m not entirely sure how well adapted this movie is, but it is a fantastic story.
- The screenplay is very well written and executed.
- I love the dialogue in the film, and there are some very quotable moments
- This story is a little slow at times however, and has an ending that most may not particularly enjoy.
- Fun fact: there is no score for this film!
- I can’t dock it too many points though, because the lack of score adds to the film so much! It helps create those moments of tension, and brings us into the film that much more. Plus it gives the Coens even more of a chance to show us what they can do.
- But still, hard to give points to score that isn’t there.
- I really, really love this film.
- While this isn’t a big budget action movie, it is a masterwork of filmmaking and acting.
- Javier’s performance as Anton Chigurh is disturbingly awesome and makes it hard to take your eyes away from the screen.
- If you appreciate the finer side of cinema then this will not fail to entertain.