A movie that many hail as one of the greatest movies of all time, No Country for Old Men by the Coen Brothers is our pick for “Movie of the Week.” Dark, sharp, unsettling, and thrilling, No Country for Old Men remains a crowning achievement of cinema in general.
The star and anchor of the movie is without a doubt the bowl cut pale faced assassin Anton Chigurh, played by the one and only Javier Bardem. Now, Bardem is one of the most iconic actors to ever grace the big screen. His roles in Before Night Falls and as the main antagonist in James Bond’s Skyfall make him no stranger to Oscar worthy performances. But these performances are merely warm up openers to the legendary performance he delivers in No Country for Old Men. His character is bone chillingly unsettling. His smile can mean anything, and even worse his frown can mean only one thing. He plays a game of chance every opportunity he gets, reveling in whether fate will spare the poor souls that happen to come his way. Most of the great lines throughout the movie are from him, often times forcing his cast mates to raise their level of acting in the scene. He is a terrifying force of nature that one cannot simply look away from. If you do, you may meet your end.
While the movie may start and end with Bardem, he is by no means the only reason this movie incredible. One of the most impressive things about the movie is its utter lack of music. Anyone who knows anything about movies knows how important music is in scenes. It creates an atmosphere and tone that helps the audience stay more engaged. It is important also in establishing mood of the scene along with the mood of the audience. A classic example would be the movie Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese. A gangster movie with many comedic and stylized tones, it would be a very different movie had the song Layla by Eric Clapton weren’t used when they found Frankie Carbone on a meat hook in the freezer. But for No Country for Old Men, much of the film is recorded in dead silence. The reason is to create a sense of dread to the audience. The film’s main character, Llewelyn Moss, is constantly on the run and fearing for his life at the hands of Chigurh. The films silence also highlights Chigurh’s lack of humanity, his focus never averting from his task at hand. For Tommy Lee Jones’ police character, the silence represents his speechlessness in how rough and unforgiving the world has become.
It cannot be stressed how amazing this movie is. The movie plays with morality and its place in today’s society. It plays with the concept of how much of your fate is really up to chance. The characters are rich, the plot is hard driven, and the theme and tone of the movie engages the audience throughout its entire run time. This film cannot be recommended enough.