No Country for Old Men is a 2007 American neo-Western crime thriller film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy.
The film is set in the 1980 West Texas desert and features Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin.
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The film revisits the themes of destiny, conscience, and circumstance that the Coen brothers had previously explored in their films Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), and Fargo (1996).
No Country for Old Men: Ending Explained
The film initially leads us to believe that we will see the ‘Good Guy’ defeating the ‘Bad Guy’ and walking off into the sunset with a bag of cash. We soon realise that no one was truly ‘good,’ and that everyone was only interested in the drug money.
We don’t even get our hero-villain showdown, because Llewelyn is killed off-screen by a third party. Ed was the ‘good’ sheriff who only survived because he was outmatched and arrived too late at the crime scenes.
No Country For Old Men concludes with Ed recalling his father’s dreams and implying that he is the old man for whom there is no country left. He has accepted defeat and lost the ability to understand crime and its nature over the years.
Ed recalls two dreams about his father. One is about his father tricking him into losing money. And another in which he is riding alongside his father in the cold. His father is carrying a splinter in a horn and goes into the dark to put out a fire. Ed has a dream in which his father is waiting for him.
Ed clearly admired his father, especially when they were both sheriffs. He is now retired and believes that when he dies, he will be reunited with his father. But for the time being, he must continue to try to comprehend what the world is becoming.
No Country for Old Men Review: Joel and Ethan Coen Actioner
West Texas, 1980: A hunter (Josh Brolin) discovers numerous dead bodies, a stash of heroin, and $2 million in cash in the region’s arid wasteland near the Rio Grande.
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He takes the money and flees, but he is pursued by a cold-blooded killer (Javier Bardem). Meanwhile, the aging local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) searches for both the hunter and the killer.
- Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem, is a pathological killer. Although it may appear at first that Bardem has little to do – his enigmatic, humorless character has only one expression throughout the film – being hair-raising creepy isn’t easy, especially when your character’s hairdo looks like one poorly washed cowlick.
- The decision by Joel and Ethan Coen not to explain away Chigurh’s motivations or background. Is Chigurh after money? Is the money just a ruse to satisfy his murderous instincts? How did he become so bloodthirsty? Was he abused by his alcoholic father? Or was he forced to watch Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas as a child? We don’t know, and that’s a good thing. The mystery enhances both Chigurh’s otherworldly menace and Bardem’s cryptic performance. (According to the DVD’s “Making Of” featurette, author Cormac McCarthy doesn’t dwell on Chigurh’s past either, describing him as someone who lacks a sense of humor.)
- Tommy Lee Jones has some good moments, but I found his folksy sheriff to be far less sympathetic than he should be. The best scene is Jones’ final one, in which he describes a couple of dreams he had. Peace may be impossible to achieve on Earth, but there may be hope in the afterlife.
- The final battle between Chigurh and Llewelyn is never seen. That’s a bit disappointing given that the majority of the film revolves around their cat-and-mouse game.
- I’m not sure if it was my fault or Joel Coen and Ethan Coen’s screenplay (or Comarc McCarthy’s novel), but several plot points made no sense – for example, I couldn’t figure out how characters could always figure out where their targets were.
- Javier Bardem won Best Supporting Actor despite being as much of the film’s lead as Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones. That is unfair to real supporting players who have little chance of being nominated (or winning) when competing with the big boys.
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