Review: No Country For Old Men (2007)

no-country-for-old-men

The film that many proclaim to be the Coen Brothers masterpiece!

Screenplay By: Ethan & Joel Coen
Directed By: Ethan & Joel Coen

Sometimes I take plenty of notes when watching a film I plan on reviewing, other times I take very few notes. When No Country For Old Men finished I looked over at my note pad and realized I hadn’t written a single thing down. This being my second go around with No Country For Old Men I can only assume that my familiarity with the material was partially responsible for the lack of note taking. The rest I chalk up to a film engrossing me so completely that I didn’t feel the need or desire to jot down any notes.

I am a terrible judge of time when it comes to movies. I will look to see how much time has elapsed in a film and realize that only fifteen minutes had passed by, quite a lower number than the forty minutes I thought had passed before my eyes. I always do this, I don’t know why but I always think that much more time has passed than actually has. Beyond all the usual accolades tossed in the direction of No Country For Old Men, I found it a highly engrossing film. It’s a very pensive film, it takes its time in frame after frame, but it isn’t a static film. It sounds weird to say I was on the edge of my seat during No Country For Old Men, but I was. My problem with judging time took a spot on the back burner during No Country For Old Men, a sure sign of an engrossing picture.

You can’t lump No Country For Old Men into one genre, well, you could, but you would be wrong in doing so. The Coen Brothers have spent their entire careers toying with genre labels and classifications, always seeking to blur the lines and show that a movie need not neatly fit into one genre to be any good. No Country For Old Men is a dark comedy, a thriller, an action movie, an indie arthouse flick and a far reaching character drama. As far as genre mixing goes No Country For Old Men may be the Coen Brothers masterpiece.

I’m finding that my thoughts about No Country For Old Men are scattered and hard to peg down. Don’t know why that is the case and because of that this isn’t a review I am particularly proud of. I’ll end by telling you that No Country For Old Men is a fantastic movie, a calm and measured presentation from the Coen Brothers that reaches high and hits as high of a mark as it could hope for. No Country For Old Men is a cool movie when it needs to be, a thoughtful one when the moment calls for it and scarily dramatic when you least expect it. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best explanation, and the simplest explanation for me is that I found No Country For Old Men to be thoroughly captivating.

Rating:

****

Cheers,
Bill

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13 responses to “Review: No Country For Old Men (2007)

  1. Despite what you feel, your critical appraisal of the movie is spot on to say the least. In fact, your final verdict, “the simplest explanation for me is that I found No Country For Old Men to be thoroughly captivating”, is as profound as it goes.

    Personally, I’m still divided as to which among Fargo & No Country for Old Men was the Coens’ greatest masterpiece. However, comparisons apart, there isn’t any doubt where the latter’s status as a great modern masterpiece is concerned. And when I read the book later, I realised, no one but the Coens could have done justice to the equally exhilarating book by Cormack McCarthy – a book, on hindsight, that seemed to have been written with a Coens’ adaptation in mind.

  2. “I’m finding that my thoughts about No Country For Old Men are scattered and hard to peg down.”

    Jesus, have you read my review of it? I keep thinking of new things to talk about, and I even caved a few times to edit the thing because they nagged me so much. This is one of the great (and few) masterpieces of the decade, alongside Yi Yi, Synecdoche NY and Werckmeister Harmonies.

  3. Oh shit, and Eternal Sunshine.

  4. Thanks for the kind words Shub, and no Jake, I don’t believe I have read your review of No Country yet. However I do believe it speaks to the strength of the film that it is so hard to peg down.

  5. Oh, and Jake, while there are other 2000 films I consider masterpieces, have you seen In The Mood For Love yet? That may end up being my #1 masterpiece from the entire decade after a few more viewings.

  6. I’m slowly hammering out a list of my top 25 films of the decade (I simply suck at paring down things to a simple ten and leaving off so many things) and reviewing the stragglers I haven’t already written about. In the Mood for Love will absolutely be on the list. Other than that and the ones I listed, I definitely know that Mullholland Dr, Pan’s Labyrinth and There Will Be Blood.

  7. I’ll agree it’s a slick, entertaining and engrossing picture but I think it lacks the soulfulness of the Coen Brothers’ other pictures. It lacks the heartwarming characters such as Barton Fink, H. I. McDunnough and Marge Gunderson.

    Instead the film is an existential exercise that seems more fascinated with all the greed, violence and doubt. I’ll agree it’s a thoughtful picture but it’s just feels bleak, soulless and impassionate and I personally can’t connect with those kinds of film.

  8. It’s good.

  9. I think a kind of clarity comes in the final twenty minutes of the film. Mark Kermode, a critic for the BBC, has described it as a switch from prose to poetry. I like to see it as plot/character/story to theme/metaphor/ideas. That final scene with Tommy Lee Jones talking to the camera gets at the film’s dark heart, and encapsulates everything that will be in the upcoming adaptation of The Road.

  10. mcarteratthemovies

    Every time I think I have found the Coens’ TRUE masterpiece, they top themselves, and then I have to start all over again. So for some time now I’ve held firm to “Blood Simple” as their best work. But “No Country for Old Men” is nipping riiiight at its heels!

    In reading the comments, I noticed that James mentioned “No Country” is “lacks the heartwarming characters” of previous films. While I wouldn’t call Sheriff Ed Tom Bell or Llewelyn Moss “heartwarming,” I’d argue they are two of the most compelling (even though they aren’t Coen-created characters). Both of them are principled men; they keep to their own moral codes, particularly Llewelyn. There’s no better evidence of this than the moment Llewelyn decides to take water to the man dying in his truck. He knows it’s “dumber than hell,” but he goes anyway because he can’t live with himself if he doesn’t.

    Probably that’s why “No Country” is one of my favorites — the characters. True, none of them are particularly charming, but they do surprise us. They keep me guessing, and it’s hard not to love a movie like that.

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  13. James – It does lack those heartwarming characters, but I think that speaks to how No Country is a different Coen Brothers film. It’s not full of hearth or absurdly enjoyable characters. It’s stark, to the point, and full of characters who we’d really rather not know.

    Edgar – You’re good…

    Mercer – I think you may have been a bit off on the tie in to The Road. I liked The Road, but I don’t think it ever reached the same profound level as the final twenty minutes of No Country.

    M – It’s very hard for me to peg down a favorite Coen film. I love a fair number of their films, and while Barton Fink is probably their best film I don’t really have a favorite.

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