No Country for Old Men (2007)
Time is cruel. Implacable. A great, slow, heartless beast that destroys us all. Picture it as an eclipse, shutting out our own, small suns, with the implacabilitiy of a planet swinging through space. You are small, piteous…doomed.
Yeah. That’s what I told Crazy Chris when he stole my marmalade from the communal fridge. The dick.
A week later and he’d “forgotten” and nicked it again.
So old Jack here trapped that blizzard of selfishness in the TV room and slapped on No Country for Old Men. Mwahahahahahaha…he was blank-faced for a week.
What a beautiful film. It starts with a voice over from Tommy Lee Jones‘s policeman, Ed Tom Bell, intoning the execution of a murderous boy. He had killed his girlfriend, defended by others as a crime of passion. But the boy admitted to Jones that killing was always his plan. Release him, and he’d do it again. So off to Hell he went…
Crazy Chris was sucked in from the moment the voiceover started. And then he watched, aghast, as the film laid out its story against the stunning landscape of the Rio Grande. Rooted in a drug deal in 1980, the Mexicans starting to traffic their cocaine into America, a crowd of trucks and bodies – even a shot dog – are found in the desert. Josh Brolin is Llewelyn Moss, the scowly, growly ‘Nam vet who finds them. The deal had gone wrong: drugs and money are somewhere. He sees boots beneath a tree and one more corpse with a case of cash. So begins the story of the young men…
Moss becomes prey for Javier Bardem‘s utterly chilling, and badly haired, performance as Anton Chigurh. Weird from tip to tail, he is a psychopath employed to get the money back. He murders his way through strangers and storekeeps, using a cattlegun that blasts a rod in and out of people’s heads, to a spray of blood, if the moment or the toss of a coin takes him. Against the gorgeously filmed Texas, Bardem is that murderous boy grown up – implacable and powerful. No-one can stop him.
Crazy Chris knew his own nutso qualities were properly amateur from the moment Bardem toys with his first storekeeper (Gene Jones long graduated from hick school and just bang on).. Murder isn’t mentioned, but the tension abounds as the awkward, terrifying conversation staggers between the two men. Each victim is like a character actor, caught doing his acting tricks, wrenched into playing Duncan to Bardem’s midnight MacBeth.
The Coen Brothers make the film entertaining and funny throughout, but you never lose the feeling of dread. Bardem ploughs through people and places; Brolin hides in motels and hotels, sometimes daring to contact the innocent wife (Kelly Macdonald as Carla Jean Moss) whom he has sent away with clumsy naïvete. Like she’s safe – pfff!
And so – occasionally – back to Tommy Lee Jones. He measures his words, stares bleakly over desks and landscapes, that sense of being outpaced by time on his rough, ageing face. He’s at the tail-end of his police career, a family tradition, and knows there’s no way around the dark clouds billowing across his landscape. Late in the film, he gets to Bardem and Brolin’s last location at a fairly pressing moment. He is on one side of a door, death awaits on the other. And he knows it. Time to give up – but he still does the right thing.
Moral siege is a thing we develop as we get older. It’s about wanting the world to stop changing, but describes the hurt you see in faces as old as mine, and the grumpy fight in young Steve’s. We know the tide of shit is unbeatable, you sense it from middle-age onwards. Bardem is a-coming…
This is splendid film. Crazy Chris was gloriously quiet throughout. The three male leads, barely interacting, are perfect in their own ways: desperate, insane and tormented.
No country for old men, indeed. That so many innocents get killed along the way – with much bittersweetness at the end of the story – would suggest the quicker those old men leave the better.
So I shot Crazy Chris with a boltgun.
Get this on Amazon Prime and give in to the beautiful bleakness of your own ageing rage.
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