Country for Old Men is a crime film as well as a meditation on chance and
destiny, a meditation on growing old and on dying young. This movie is borrowed
from the novel by Cormac McCarthy. In this movie, wrongs are done and there is
very little that anyone can do to bring things back to order. The movie opens
with an older man’s voiceover that is more compassionate than ruthless. While
roaming through the aftermath of a Texas drug deal that had collapsed, a
Vietnam veteran called Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers two million
dollars, 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 reaction
in a stripped-down crime movie from Joel and Ethan Coen. Moss becomes the prey
for an enigmatic killer, Anton Chighurh, who determines the fate of his victims
with the flip of a coin.  The disenchant
Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) in this series of drama struggles to contain the
rapidly escalating violence. Fate is inevitable just like change. No Country
for old Men has one important theme as fate. This paper looks at several
instances/scenes that justifies fate in this movie.

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             The primary antagonist in the movie, Anton
Chighurh serves an agent of death and fate. Carla Jean is seen pleading for her
life in the hands of Chigurgh who threatens that her life was over when she
came into it. Carla has faced the tragedy of her husband, Moss, and later her
mother also succumbs to cancer. Moss’ end tells us   that our past sins catch up with us, even if
he repents, the movie will execute his punishment. After these instances, Carla
returns home where she finds Chigurh waiting to kill her. Chigurh offers Carla
chances to safe herself by calling flip of a coin but Carla is not interested
in Chigurh’s dumb games, she denounces the offer. Instead of giving him the
satisfaction of thinking that he has some random act of chaos, Carla confronts
Chigurh 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 chaos
into a delusional egomaniac. Eventually, Chigurh does not give Carla a chance
to survive, as his coin is the determinant of the people’s fate.

            Chigurh believes himself to be the
harbinger of death. He allows the chance encounter of a coin toss to determine
the fate of Carla Jean and the gas station attendant. Thus he allows fate to
determine for the lives of the two. Chigurh’s words that he tries to utter
appear to be swallowed when they are halfway out of his mouth. This character
portrays Chigurh as a less human and more, a blunt instrument. Chigurh enters a
rundown gas station in the middle of wilderness and the dialogue that ensues
reveals that Chigurh and the old man (Gene Jones) are talking about the fate of
this old man. Chigurh does not seem to change his mind and without explaining
why, he asks the nervous old man call the flip of a coin. Anton Chigurh is a
psychopathic man who apparently has been hired shadowy interest to hunt and
retrieve a satchel of two million US dollars in cash. It is clear that this
money went missing after a drug deal collapsed. Chigurh is a tactical serial
killer who has a grotesque hairstyle, and a wont to killing people using
air-pressure bolt gun. His fanaticism goes beyond the cold commitment of a
hired 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 obsession
of slaughter. Chigurh’s smile that pops out of his mouth as he speaks indicates
a diabolical sort of gaiety. His funny haircut too reveals a character lacking
sense of humor, a lost Beatle from hell. This comes to reality when he
mercilessly blows a hole in your head using his conventional firearm, the
pneumatic device.

            Men come to Sherriff Bell who after
failing to find Chigurh decides to retire. Chigurh’s psychotic rampage of
killing could also have included Bell’s death. But fate makes their ways not to
cross and thus Bell escapes. Bell is hesitant to narrate his dreams to his wife
because he feels that his wife might find the dreams not engaging. Bell says
that he is now twenty years older than his father was in the dream. Something
is off and time appears to have been inverted. Instead of Bell’s father being
old, it is Bell who is the ‘old man’. The first Bell’s dream is about his
father giving him some money. The main struggle in the movie has been about
Moss being trailed by Chigurh to retrieve a case with two million dollars. All
the characters pursuing money end up in dead or severely injured and morally
empty but Bell survives and stays long enough to retire. This dream leaves us
with an understanding that greed eventually leads people to fall and those who
do not value money very much live a safer and fulfiller life. The money in the
dream also symbolize good fortune. However, Bell’s losing the money shows his
inability to see his world clearly. The second dream is about riding on
horseback through the mountains. There’s a reference to going back in time when
Bell says his father was “carrying fire in a horn.” Sheriff Bell’s dreams there
are some things that cannot be solved by our inner selves. The subconscious
sometimes can tell you what you want but it remains a wish that is impossible
to fulfill.

            Many critics have pointed out that ‘No
Country for Old Men’ is one of well-crafted films of the 21st century
and the best of Coen brothers’ films. One critic, Dr. Damjan R, in his review
indicates that the acting is really good, as all the principals appear to have
been born into these characters. The structure of the film flows well and the
story is constructed in a manner that provides contemplation. The motif of
blood is wonderfully introduced and carried throughout the scenes. However, the
humor in the film is off-putting and its more philosophical questions present
some 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 simple
with complex implications which are not shown in a satisfying way.

            In conclusion, all the characters in
the film demonstrate where our ambitions have gone, how far our vanity has
gone, 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 should


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