Friday, 19 February 2010

Buenos Dias. I'm guessing this isn't the future you had planned for yourself when you first clapped eyes on that money

No 228 – No Country for Old Men
Directors – Joel and Ethan Coen

I have been trying to watch this film all week. For some reason, every time I have gotten 6 minutes into the film something has occurred to scupper my plans. However, I finally got round to it.

The first thing that this makes me think of is Electra Glide in Blue. The sweeping desert vistas, the film’s palette of shades of brown, the dusty jaded police driving through the dusty desert roads.
This is a dirty and brown film.

This film follows Josh Brolin’s Llewellyn as he discovers a drug deal gone wrong and manages to prise $2,000,000 from one of the corpses. Rather than make life better for him and his wife, it opens up a whole can of worms as it introduces the chilling Anton Chigurh, played brilliantly by Javier Bardem. Anton is a bounty hunter (or a tracker, or an assassin) hired to kill whoever stole the money, and get the money back. He is armed with two of the greatest weapons ever – an air bolt (as used for killing cattle in abattoirs) and a SILENCED shotgun which makes the most wonderful phwip noise each time it is shot – and he is a determined and callous man.
In fact, as I watched Anton’s progress I was led to one logical conclusion. Consider the facts:
- Bardem’s wonderful dead eyed and emotionless performance.
- The clinical scene in which Anton fixes himself up after being shot. Performing self surgery with nary a wince of pain.
- Anton’s unstoppable march.

The man is a fucking TERMINATOR. It is the only answer. It would certainly explain why everyone is so gosh-darned scared of him.

Anton’s pursuit of Llewellyn takes up most of the film and it is a story which expands to include a lot of characters, most of whom end up either shot or with a gas powered retractable bolt shooting through their brain. We have Kelly Macdonald as Llewellyn’s wife (performing a really adorable thick accent) we also have cameos from Woody Harrelson (who will always be Woody from Cheers, regardless how many badass characters he plays) and a man who I was convinced was Rip Torn, but actually ended up being someone called Stephen Root.

However the most important character outside of the Brolin/Bardem pairing (and arguably, including them) is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, played by Tommy Lee Jones. He is on the trail of Bardem’s killer and he is trying to find out about the drug deal. He flits in and out of the film and he is never the story’s central focus. Until the final scene.

Bardem’s remorseless killer seems to be the job which pushes him over the edge ad to retirement. So we see him, essentially bored, and at home. Life has moved on. The world has always been cruel and violent but he was younger, he had help (the dreams about his dead father show the comfort that comes from having someone up ahead, preparing safety for you).
It is his arc which is the main spine of the story.
It is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell to which the story’s title refers.

It is No Country for Old Men.

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