No Country for Old Men (spoilers)

I’m an enormous fan of the Coen brothers. Their movies constantly occupy top places in my personal hierarchy of great movies. So you’ll understand that I was looking forward to No Country for Old Men. Raving reviews, Oscars, Tommy Lee Jones, what’s not to like?

First time I saw it was in the middle of the night, I was sleepy, and I assumed I’d spaced on some important bits. I just finished rewatching it, but unfortunately my reaction was the same this time. I’m just not seeing the greatness. When the credits rolled, I found myself thinking “That’s it?”. It didn’t affect me at all. It’s not a bad movie, but from the reviews, the talk, the awards and the Coen brothers’ involvement I expected a whole lot more.

So please explain it to me, if possible. I feel like I’m missing something essential here. I feel like I cheated myself out of a great experience. What is the deal with No Country for Old Men?

Its hardcore, dramatic, violent. touching and it leaves you stunned nearly at the end.

For one thing there is no storybook ending, which sets it apart from 99% of hollywood formula

And for being such a violent film, so much tension rests merely on dialogue. The scene with Chigurh talking with the store clerk has (digging back in my memory here, pardon any slips) no overt threats, no violence, “merely” a coin flip and some talking. Yet they infuse the scene with such quiet menace and tension.

I couldn’t agree more. I felt like I “missed” it, whatever “it” was. I enjoyed the performances, but there seemed to be a lack of substance to it. My GF just got it from Netflix, I’m hoping that a second viewing will improve the experience.

I will drop everything to watch Miller’s Crossing for the kajillionth time, I just don’t see this film as having the same legs, for me at least.

It’s skillfully done, no doubt about it. That is an excellently crafted scene, one among several in the film. The problem for me is that it adds up to nothing in the end. I’m not coming away with anything.

But of course! That’s what makes it great. It’s finally art imitating life. No clear resolution, no justice, we all just get older and wonder what happened.

I thought the movie was brilliant.

I don’t know about “finally”. We’ve seen resolutionless fiction before. I’m reminded of Chekov’s short stories, which definitely imitate life and are technically near perfect but, as I said to a friend when I had just finished a collection of them, there’s a reason we live in life and read fiction.

Exactly. Hence the sheriff’s words: “And then I woke up.”

That’s interesting - definitely a YMMV thing, I guess. My SO and I saw “No Country For Old Men” the weekend that it came out, and liked it very much. I got him the book for Christmas, along with a Coen Brothers 5-DVD box set, which included “Miller’s Crossing.” We just watched it last weekend, and spent half the movie trying to sort out who was who and figure out what the heck was going on.

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite movies. I was pretty stunned too after the first viewing but then reflected on it and dedicated a quiet afternoon with no interuptions to seeing it again. I think if you’ll pay particular attention to the conversation he has with Barry Corbin near the end, as well as to the dreams he had involving his father as related to Tess Harper (he’d gone ahead throught the cold but would make a place for him), they’re pretty telling.

It struck me as the seemingly incomprehensible nature of evil as experienced by decent people, of their struggles and eventual failure to ever make rhyme or reason of it or to make any sense of the depth of its depravity. At the end, all you can do is to continue in what you know is right and hold those you love close to you but even that can’t protect good or innocence from an indomitable, unsympathetic force.

Spot on acting, settings that truly captured the harsh indifference of the land, a helluva script and a message that resonates true to life. Damn but I do love this show.

I didn’t get it either, and from what people said who read the book, it is missing some pivotal parts to some of the scenes. I didn’t think it was bad, just not Best Picture. I guess I would probably need to see it again to understand the import of the narration, but I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Yeah, I got that. It just… wasn’t a stunning revelation. At all. I was watching it and going… “yeah… so?” It didn’t generate an emotional reaction in me. It seemed to me that it wasn’t intended to either.

No Country sparked a fairly emotional response in me. I can totally relate to Ed Tom. The on-sceen violence between Chigurh and Moss was less real to me than Ed Tom’s baffled reaction to it.

Like our hometown headline going on today.

I just don’t get it.

So Ed Tom’s opening mologue…

…really resonates with me.

The end bothered me but not the way you think.

Chigurh’s car accident was completly telegraphed. I knew it coming. Very clumsy considering how the rest of the film worked.

Then to make the accident a zero sum thing. He doesn’t die, he doesn’t get caught. I also thought putting the wife’s demise off screen was a cheat. She was a sweet character and to hide her murder some how makes Chigurh more ‘likeable’.

It was kind of like Blood Simple but with better writing/acting and production values.

Yes, the accident was telegraphed, but it would be hard not to telegraph it. They needed to set the scene of him driving down the street before they could have a car crash into him. Everyone knows that if there’s a scene of a car driving down the street there is going to be an accident. I agree that it was clumsy, but I don’t know how else you would do it.

The ending only works if you accept that Chigurh is not just a man. He is Evil. Evil can’t die, it can’t be captured, and it won’t ever stop. It’s a bit trite, but the Coens are so masterful that the movie works anyway (I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on it).

As violent as the movie was, I don’t think it was any more violent than it needed to be. Showing the wife’s death was unnecessary. We already knew that Chigurh was capable of killing her, we knew that he would kill her, and we knew how he would kill her. There was no need to show him killing her. So they didn’t.

Well, that’s a matter of taste. Personally, I think 19th century Russian literature is the most entertaining category of prose ever written. And I agree with Qadgop the Mercotan; it’s a brilliant movie, albeit still not surpassing The Big Lebowski.


Even though you saw the crash coming, (which you wouldn’t, had you been in Chigurh’s shoes!), the point was, that the best laid plans of mice and men, can often go awry. And also, it seems like evil endures! IMO. :wink:

Like Barry Corbin’s character said, “Whatcha got ain’t nothin new. This country’s hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.” The movie opens with an evil the sheriff can’t understand with his story of the boy he sent to the electric chair for the murder of a fourteen year old girl, and ends with a new evil he can’t understand. The sheriff saw that the advance of the drug trade of the 1980’s was causing the world to change right out from underneath him, and that he had no more power to fight it. His time was over. The movie didn’t leave you with anything because there was nothing to come away with. The sheriff and the movie both just ended.