Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Country For Old Men

The world is a place where death rules, and contrary to what the older generations try to tell you, it was never any less evil in their day. They just notice it more now.

No Country for Old Men is a decidedly non-traditional film. By all accounts it is a very faithful adaptation of the book on which it is based. It begins without a beginning, and ends abruptly without a noticeable conclusion. The rest of the time it focuses on three characters who never really meet each other:

Llewelyn Moss is a man who, against his better judgment, gets involved with death, but that is not what condemns him. The fact is, “you never see what’s coming,” and the viewer doesn’t either.

Javier Bardem plays Anton Chigurh, a killer who many claimed is the creepiest villain since Hannibal Lecter. In fact, he is never creepy—he is too inhuman to really be scary. He is evil in the same sense that death is evil, and he is as impersonal.

The true key to the film is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a man who has grown up fighting evil in the world. As he gets older, he has begun to realize that it cannot be overcome. A key conversation towards the end has him revealing, “I always figured when I got older, God would sorta come inta my life somehow. And he didn't. I don't blame him. If I was him I would have the same opinion of me that he does.”

That is the message in a nutshell. The Coens present a world where death rules, and God chooses to do nothing about it. Perhaps we are all too evil for God to care. The scant hope offered at the end leaves most viewers empty, and it should. Their view of the world is more or less accurate, but their idea of God is one sided. They see the judgment but not the love.

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