Set in rural Texas, No Country for Old Men tells the story of three key characters in one film. Our first character is Llewelyn (Josh Brolin), who discovers the aftermath of a shootout which appears to be from a major drug deal gone wrong. Llewelyn decides to look around and soon finds a large sum of money which he decides he will try to keep for himself rather than notify the police.
Secondly, we have a violent murderer named Anton (Javier Bardem). Anton recently escaped from police custody and is a rather unusual kind of killer when it comes to his style or methods at the start of the film. Anton is given the task of hunting down the missing money and retrieving it, doing whatever it takes.
Finally, we have Sheriff Ed (Tommy Lee Jones), who investigates the recent murders within the community and the significant crime surrounding the deaths and large sums of money. Can the Sheriff catch up with the players involved?
Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen (aka the Coen brothers), this film differs from the comedies they have been known to direct. The Coen brothers have delivered a film that is more crime drama with added suspense and thrills. The pace is slower than expected, and no scene is ever in a hurry to tell its tale. Some of the plot elements are not handed to their audiences easily, particularly during the final moments of the film. I felt like the directors are merely asking the audience to think about specific elements rather than have every bit of detail spelt out for them.
Visuals are amazing. I love the directors’ creativity visually, but the same can be said about the film’s audio track. Those who watch this film with an excellent audio setup will find joy in the style and mix of audio. Performances are outstanding, with actor Javier Bardem who plays the film’s villain delivering many unsettling moments and general mystery. Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin are also favourable as lead actors, and I cannot fault any performance from start to finish.
Overall, while this film did not quite win me over on my first viewing, it certainly won me over the more I watched it and allowed my mind to process it. Performances here are incredible, particularly from Javier Bardem, who is consistently uncomfortable to watch as a mysterious yet violent killer. The film’s story is dark and gritty; not every detail is spoon-fed to its viewers. It requires the audience to think during selected moments. I have learned to admire this film, and nothing is quite like it in the land of cinema.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden