No Country For Old Men

Also published at: Wordsutra.com

How do you just outdo yourself once you’ve made a movie like “Fargo” or “The Big Lebowski”? The answer is, not make a sequel. The answer is, translate Cormac McCarthy’s novel about the relationship between the hunter and the hunted and take it to a totally elevated dimension with riveting performances, groundbreaking shooting moments and most importantly fill it with spine-chilling silence, coz nothing works as good as plain simple silence when it comes to “thrills”. And that is what the Coens have done with “No Country for Old Men”. Not only have they explored the characters of the three main protagonists with so much ease and detail, but have also managed to paint a perfect depiction of the “West” replete with Sheriffs on horses and the Cow Boy hats, the leather boots, the gas stations owned by some old guy, and the cheap motels. But wait, am I forgetting something here? This is a movie totally owned by Javier Bardem, which is actually how the Coens would’ve planned and hell yeah, they have succeeded.Never been a better and stronger onscreen depiction of evil since “Silence of the Lambs”.No Country…begins with Tommy Lee narrating a story about a teenager who killed his 14 year old girlfriend, just because he wanted to quench his thirst for murder of somebody. Lee narrates it in perfect laid back Western style, yet somehow those words manage to lift the curtains to the visuals that were about to unleash. Enter Anton Chigurh ( Javier Burdem), the psychopathic hunter, as he chokes a sheriff to death with his handcuffs, walks to the basin with his wrists bleeding and washes them, and walks out with his compressed air cylinder (to be described in a while). Character 2: Josh Brolin as Llewellyn Moss, captures your attention like an intoxicating old wine trying to get hold of you. It begins slowly and very patiently as he snipes at a prey, only to find a site of drug deal massacre. He cleverly finds the missing part, the last man standing who has the money and gets away with it, unaware of the hell that is about to unleash on him, and inadvertently becomes the hunted. Character 3: Tommy Lee as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is the one who really doesn’t at all like this world of psychopaths or understands it to great effect. His main aim: to interrupt the series of Chigurh’s ruthless murders. A businessman hires a bounty hunter Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson) to look into the drug deal massacre. The plot travels through these characters as we fall prey to the smooth, slow, yet gripping narrative filled with the blowing of the door locks, and more than often, washing of wounds.

Not only do the Coens succeed in capturing the right hue and tone for each scenes setting (which include the dark alley fights near the gas stations, or the dimly lit motel room gun fights, or even the light creeping in from below the door), what is more noteworthy, is the amount of source sound, sans the background score which has been put into effect so beautifully, it puts Jaws to shame. Having said that, the Coens excel in the writing part too. Have a look at the scene where Chigurh interrogates the old man at the gas station behind the cash register with his single line questions and exposing the person’s inconsistencies, which in return serve as his judgment to kill them. And when he is not able to convince himself, he asks the old man to call the flip of a coin, without explaining what is at stake. You should see the nervousness on the old man as he gulps down saliva down his throat with barely managing to take a breath. If I were there, I’d shit in me pants for sure. As the bounty hunter puts it,” He (Chigurh) has his principles”, and Burdem lives the role down to the last inch. The stoned look as he punches the release knob of his cylinder, the brutality in his expressionless face as he fires from his shotgun and his preparedness in planning his pursuit and finally hunting them down, all of these and much more, are things which can be written about more and more. If Burdem doesn’t win the Oscars for this, I wanna know who else will?

Of course, Llewellyn’s journey from being the hunter to the hunted, always on the move and trying to stay a step ahead from Chigurh, is all about Josh Brolin’s credibility. He’s got no time for ego; only react fast enough to stay ahead in the cat and mouse race, trusting only his instinct. He is extremely focused and constantly thinking of Chigurh’s next move and the race just gets more and more pacier, as the body count increases. Though Llewellyn is not evil, but he isn’t blameless either. He tolerates evil and tries to profit from it too. But yet again, I’m still haunted by Chigurh. It’s almost three days since I watched this flick, but I just can’t seem to forget Chigurh insisting,” You need to call it. I can’t call it for you. It wouldn’t be fair”. Hail the Coens!!! Bang ! Bang ! Bang ! Bang ! Bang !

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