Question about "No Country for Old Men" SPOILER

Near the end when Tommy Lee Jones is going into the motel room Josh Brolin was killed in, the “bad guy”, Anton Chigurh, was seen behind the door waiting on Tommy Lee to come in, you can clearly see tommy lee through the air blasted lock on the door. But when he comes in, Anton is no where in sight. I just don’t get this. You don’t see him run out or anything, so what was that all about ??? I thought there woulda been a shoot out at the very least.

He was behind the door.

I think he was next door.

Also, Tommy Lee Jones didn’t see Chigurh, so he lived.

Just saw this movie again after finding this thread, and he was definitely not behind the door.

At least, not when TLJ opens the door. However, he’s not next door, since you can clearly see the light from the door coming through the blown out lock and Anton standing behind the door.

The only way Anton could be in a room behind a door like that is if he blew out two door locks. But since he arrived after the Mexicans and the police, he knew what room to go to. He blew out the lock in room 114, the same room that TLJ approaches.

But when TLJ opens the door, there is no Anton behind the door… where he is, I don’t know. TLJ stays in the room for a bit, and actually sits down. So unless Anton makes some dive behind a couch off camera, this is a weird plot hole of some kind.

This has bugged me since I saw the movie the first time. At first, I thought he was behind the door, but since it’s been on the movie channels and PPV, you can clearly see he’s not behind the door when TLJ opens it. I’d love to know if it was just an editing error or something thrown in to keep the audience guessing. Given the director’s history, it wouldn’t surprise me that it was just a potential red herring.


I thought he in the bathroom.

My take on it is that Sheriff Bell (TLJ) was imagining Chigurh behind the door. He was spooked, because he already knew he was no match for Chigurh, and he knew that Chigurh was a ghost. I think the scene was meant to parallell Chigurh’s coin toss: Either Chigurh is behind the door or he isn’t. If he isn’t, Bell will live; if he is, Bell will die. There is no third possibility, and Sheriff Bell knows this.

I think it was Bell’s imagination, because Chigurh could not have left the hotel room carrying a case with a million plus dollars without Bell hearing him. If the money was already gone, then Bell would have no reason to stay in the room; if he had to stake out the room after taking the money earlier, he would wait in the car outside the parking lot where there would be more room for escape. There’s a certain amount of artistic license, because Bell doesn’t know what Chigurh looks like and hence cannot visualize him, but I still think it’s a powerful scene.

Linty Fresh, I like that – having Chigurh behind the door in Bell’s imagination. Or Bell coming into the room in Chigurh’s imagination.

I think it was the filmmakers playing with our heads. Chigurh was in that room and ducked behind the door (or hid somewhere) at some point, but it happened earlier, before Bell got there – it wasn’t Bell’s car he heard.

If I remember right, in the book, Bell didn’t go into the room at all. He stayed in his car. He wasn’t ready to face Chigurh, or the changing times. The Coens were kinder to Bell than McCarthy was.

Totally agreed. The Coens also left out Bell’s major screwup in the war, IIRC, which is kind of a shame, because it’s the reason he went to such lengths to try to protect Llewelyn.

I just saw it again too, and enjoyed it more the second time. I think the Coens made the scene ambiguous by design. They wanted a WTF? moment, and they succeeded quite well.

Do Joel and Ethan talk much about their work? Do they ever do DVD commentaries?

They did a commentary for this movie. No pussyfooting around either, they talked about it openly, the book, the casting, all that stuff. Sometimes directors try to be all mysterious, like people will try to steal their ideas.

There’s a Making of, Working with the Coens, and Diary of a Country Sheriff. The Coens talk, and so do all the stars.

I took it that Chigurh had already retrieved the money since the sheriff notes the vent, screws and coin on the floor prior to scene fadeout.

Oh yeah, no doubt about that. IIRC in the book Chigurh did all this to impress a crime lord. The money meant nothing to him. He just wanted to show this guy how good he was. But damn – would you want Chigurh on your payroll? I guess he’d be loyal and he’d get the job done but still . . .

Maybe I should start a different thread on this; but maybe this will only be a slight hijack… What was Bell’s major screwup in the war?

You’d prefer him on yours, to somebody elses. Keep your friends close, and your potential enemies closer, perhaps? I’d hate to be the one to tell him he was fired!

[spoiler]In WWII, the farmhouse or whatever Bell and his unit were hiding in was shelled by the Nazis. Bell had been out scouting when it went down, and by the time he made it back to the house, it was in ruins. He could hear a few groans from the rubble, but the Germans were coming, and he ran instead of taking them on. When he confessed this to his superior officer, he was ordered to keep his mouth shut about it, and he ultimately got awarded a medal based on a revised story of the event.

He confesses this to his handicapped uncle who owned all the cats toward the end of the book. I can’t remember if he actually stated that this was the reason he became a sheriff and went out of his way to try to save Llewelyn, but we were at least meant to infer that.[/spoiler]

Actually, now that I look at that, it wasn’t a major screwup, but Bell sure saw it that way. It had haunted him for over 30 years. And to extent, I believe that he should have at least tried to defend his buddies in the rubble. But certainly it was understandable.

I had to get the book to refresh my memory. It wasn’t a screw-up so much as it was Bell believing he let his squad down. They were holed up in a stone farmhouse in France. The house was shelled. Bell was knocked out, came to outside the house. Before he could help his men (if any of them even survived) the Germans came at him. He shot at them and when it got dark, “I cut and run”. He felt like he left his buddies behind, even though he wouldn’t have been able to help them. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that he was given a commendation. He tried to refuse the honor but the commander insisted. It defined his life, being honored for what he saw as his failure.

ETA: I see I need to type faster! :wink:

That’s when you’re glad you’re not in HR.

The film undergoes a fundamental shift in storytelling style with the death of Llewelyn. Up till then, while satisfyingly complicated, the film appears to be on a clearly defined arc with Llewelyn as the central protagonist. The central question appears to be whether and how he gets away with the cash or, if not, who does wind up with the case. As events unfold we appear to have a very clear understanding of how things are happening. It’s merely a “bag of money” thriller, although brilliantly executed as such.
And then there’s that fade to black. After that, none of this framework remotely applies. Llewelyn is shot offscreen. The money disappears from view and we never quite explicitly find out what happens to it. Everything that had appeared central to the plot suddenly becomes incidental. The film is actually about other stuff entirely.

To me, the scene in the motel room then acts as a counterpoint to the earlier sequence in the other motel with the bag in the air duct. In it the Coens are very careful to give the audience the sense that we know exactly where everyone and everything is in relation to each other within the groundplan of the motel. It’s apparently all spelt out.
The later scene thus becomes the opposite of this. Possibly non-linear in time in such a way that we can’t remotely agree on where the two of them are in relation to each other. This is part of the wider dislocations they introduce into the final act to emphasise to the audience that it’s all not as straightforward as we’d assumed.