NoCountry for Old Men is a crime film as well as a meditation on chance anddestiny, a meditation on growing old and on dying young. This movie is borrowedfrom the novel by Cormac McCarthy. In this movie, wrongs are done and there isvery little that anyone can do to bring things back to order. The movie openswith an older man’s voiceover that is more compassionate than ruthless. Whileroaming through the aftermath of a Texas drug deal that had collapsed, aVietnam veteran called Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers two milliondollars, and a substantial amount of heroin hidden in the back of the vehicle.Moss’s plan to flee with the money sets off an explosive sequence of reactionin a stripped-down crime movie from Joel and Ethan Coen. Moss becomes the preyfor an enigmatic killer, Anton Chighurh, who determines the fate of his victimswith the flip of a coin.
The disenchantSheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) in this series of drama struggles to contain therapidly escalating violence. Fate is inevitable just like change. No Countryfor old Men has one important theme as fate. This paper looks at severalinstances/scenes that justifies fate in this movie. The primary antagonist in the movie, AntonChighurh serves an agent of death and fate. Carla Jean is seen pleading for herlife in the hands of Chigurgh who threatens that her life was over when shecame into it. Carla has faced the tragedy of her husband, Moss, and later hermother also succumbs to cancer. Moss’ end tells us that our past sins catch up with us, even ifhe repents, the movie will execute his punishment.
After these instances, Carlareturns home where she finds Chigurh waiting to kill her. Chigurh offers Carlachances to safe herself by calling flip of a coin but Carla is not interestedin Chigurh’s dumb games, she denounces the offer. Instead of giving him thesatisfaction of thinking that he has some random act of chaos, Carla confrontsChigurh with the claim, “The coin don’t have no say. It’s just you.”This comment angers and startles Chigurh turning him from and agent of chaosinto a delusional egomaniac. Eventually, Chigurh does not give Carla a chanceto survive, as his coin is the determinant of the people’s fate.
Chigurh believes himself to be theharbinger of death. He allows the chance encounter of a coin toss to determinethe fate of Carla Jean and the gas station attendant. Thus he allows fate todetermine for the lives of the two. Chigurh’s words that he tries to utterappear to be swallowed when they are halfway out of his mouth. This characterportrays Chigurh as a less human and more, a blunt instrument. Chigurh enters arundown gas station in the middle of wilderness and the dialogue that ensuesreveals that Chigurh and the old man (Gene Jones) are talking about the fate ofthis old man. Chigurh does not seem to change his mind and without explainingwhy, he asks the nervous old man call the flip of a coin.
Anton Chigurh is apsychopathic man who apparently has been hired shadowy interest to hunt andretrieve a satchel of two million US dollars in cash. It is clear that thismoney went missing after a drug deal collapsed. Chigurh is a tactical serialkiller who has a grotesque hairstyle, and a wont to killing people usingair-pressure bolt gun.
His fanaticism goes beyond the cold commitment of ahired assassin. As a devoted murderer and a cognoscente of fear and victimhood,Chigurh finally seems to forget about the money he is hunting in his obsessionof slaughter. Chigurh’s smile that pops out of his mouth as he speaks indicatesa diabolical sort of gaiety. His funny haircut too reveals a character lackingsense of humor, a lost Beatle from hell. This comes to reality when hemercilessly blows a hole in your head using his conventional firearm, thepneumatic device.
Men come to Sherriff Bell who afterfailing to find Chigurh decides to retire. Chigurh’s psychotic rampage ofkilling could also have included Bell’s death. But fate makes their ways not tocross and thus Bell escapes. Bell is hesitant to narrate his dreams to his wifebecause he feels that his wife might find the dreams not engaging.
Bell saysthat he is now twenty years older than his father was in the dream. Somethingis off and time appears to have been inverted. Instead of Bell’s father beingold, it is Bell who is the ‘old man’. The first Bell’s dream is about hisfather giving him some money. The main struggle in the movie has been aboutMoss being trailed by Chigurh to retrieve a case with two million dollars. Allthe characters pursuing money end up in dead or severely injured and morallyempty but Bell survives and stays long enough to retire.
This dream leaves uswith an understanding that greed eventually leads people to fall and those whodo not value money very much live a safer and fulfiller life. The money in thedream also symbolize good fortune. However, Bell’s losing the money shows hisinability to see his world clearly. The second dream is about riding onhorseback through the mountains.
There’s a reference to going back in time whenBell says his father was “carrying fire in a horn.” Sheriff Bell’s dreams thereare some things that cannot be solved by our inner selves. The subconscioussometimes can tell you what you want but it remains a wish that is impossibleto fulfill. Many critics have pointed out that ‘NoCountry for Old Men’ is one of well-crafted films of the 21st centuryand the best of Coen brothers’ films.
One critic, Dr. Damjan R, in his reviewindicates that the acting is really good, as all the principals appear to havebeen born into these characters. The structure of the film flows well and thestory is constructed in a manner that provides contemplation. The motif ofblood is wonderfully introduced and carried throughout the scenes. However, thehumor in the film is off-putting and its more philosophical questions presentsome difficulties in understanding them. Again, the film’s energy is high,despite being a rather slow paced affair. In a nut shell, the film is simplewith complex implications which are not shown in a satisfying way.
In conclusion, all the characters inthe film demonstrate where our ambitions have gone, how far our vanity hasgone, and where our morals used to reside. This is one of the well-written,directed, acted, and photographed of all the Coen’s films that no one shouldmiss.