Reviews & Previews - No Country for Old Men

Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 05:00 PM

No Country for Old Men

By: S. Tran

Starring: Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem
Directed by: Joe and Ethan Coen
Running time: 122 min
Rated: R

No Country for Endings

This is the best 112 minute film I have seen all year. Unfortunately the film is 122 minutes long and the last 10 minutes almost undoes the rest of an otherwise engaging, intelligent and superbly executed thriller.

No Country for Old Men is one of those rare films where you get a chance to see film making at it purest. There are no fancy tricks, special effects or even much of a sound track to speak of. Instead the film focuses on what make for truly compelling cinema, a tight story, strong acting and directing that moves the film along at a good pace.

The story itself is simple enough, Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) comes across a botched drug transaction and ends up with the money. He then spends the rest of the movie trying to stay alive while being hunted by a mysterious assassin named Anton Chigurh (Bardem). Meanwhile, on the sidelines Sheriff Bell (Jones) acts as a sort of narrator, following the action but never really getting involved himself.

Credit has to be given to all the actors involved for some of the best performances on the screen this year. Brolin is great as the morally ambiguous, yet likable Moss who brings trouble onto himself when he makes a play for the money. Even though Moss sought out the money instead of walking away from the crime scene we still root for him to escape because at his centre is an every day guy just trying to get ahead. Brolin's  miminal, dry delivery is natural and engaging and he lets his scenes develop naturally, not forcing anything.

Bardem deserves credit or his performance as well. He is effectively terrifying as the shadowy hit man blazing a trail of death in his search for Moss and the money. His character managed to scare me more than any typical Hollywood bogey man even without the usual jump out from the shadows tricks. Part of this was due to Bardem's eerie, flat delivery. He exuded a quiet menace that made you feel something bad could happen at any time.

As great as the performances were equal credit has to go to the directing and editing of this film. Except for the last 10 minutes I didn't feel like there was one wasted frame in the film. Every scene served a purpose, driving the narrative, developing the characters, and adding to the desolate, West Texas sense of desolation. In a world where we are used to hyper active, ADD editing and sound effects No Country for Old Men feels like an throwback to a simpler time in film making.

As I mentioned though for me the film falls apart in the last 10 minutes. While I won't give away the ending I can tell you there was a collective "Huh?" from the entire audience after the movie ended. While I applaud the Coen brothers for trying to do something different with this film, I think as an audience we deserved to see the ending. By this I don't mean there has to be a typical feel good finish to the movie, but we should be allowed to see what happens to the characters we've been following for the last two hours. As it is the ending was both unsatisfying and, in my mind, unnecessarily deprived the audience.

No Country for Old Men is a great film experience and the shockingly bad ending is even made worse when compared to the brilliance of the film's first 112 minutes. It is a shame that such a movie had to suffer a fate like that. Still, this is something worth seeing for film fans.


4 out of 5 stars.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to