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DVD Review: No Country For Old Men

DVD Review: No Country For Old Men


A pair of award-winning filmmakers and an acclaimed cast propel a riveting crime saga to its unforgettable conclusion in one of the most honored films of the year, No Country for Old Men, coming to DVD and Blu-ray Disc on March 11, 2008 from Miramax Films. Joel and Ethan Cohen deliver their most gripping and ambitious film yet in this sizzling and supercharged action-thriller. This gritty game of cat and mouse will take you to the edge of your seat and beyond. A collection of behind-the-scenes bonus features including a look at the Coen Brothers filmmaking process makes the No Country for Old Men DVD and Blu-ray Disc an experience you don’t want to miss.

Delivering their most viscerally compelling and ambitious film yet, Joel and Ethan Coen wrote, directed and produced No Country for Old Men based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy (2007 Fiction for The Road). The film features virtuoso acting turns by Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, Javier Bardem, Golden Globe nominee Kelly MacDonald (2005 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie nominee for “The Girl in the Cafe”) and Josh Brolin (Grindhouse).

*Spoilers Included*

If you’re looking for a cookie cutter storyline then look elsewhere. No Country for Old Men defies the typical plot format. What is so impressive about this film is just that, we think we will arrive at some conclusion to the consequences of the film and yet we are left hanging – such is life. So seldom does a filmmaker have the nerve to kill the protagonist and allow the villain to survive and do it well. In all fairness Tommy Lee Jones’s character, Ed, would be considered the true protagonist. He is the good cop following the crime and murderer. However, I found his character more forgettable and one-dimensional. The more compelling protagonist, Llewelyn Moss, played by Josh Brolin, was a more sinful underdog than a typical protagonist, but it’s his journey of survival that we are following throughout the story. We’re rooting for him. We want him to get away with the money, regardless of his character flaws.

When Llewelyn is killed the viewer begins to question which character the film is actually about. Is it our protagonist or is it our antagonist that we are following throughout the film? Javier Bardem’s chilling portrayal of the sociopath, Anton Chigurh, was well deserving of his Academy Award win for best performance by a supporting actor. For how little we know of him Anton is actually a complex character. He kills whoever gets in the way of his target and yet spares others. He allows some innocents to determine their own fate by calling a coin before it flips. He seems to have this distorted view of fairness that seems to be only determined by luck– that fairness lay only in chance. Perhaps by allowing the coin to determine the person’s chance to survive he himself doesn’t feel responsible for taking human life. He is systematic, unwavering, and yet not entirely inhuman. He becomes a more sympathetic character, because he chooses not to kill certain people if they play by his rules– the shopkeeper from the beginning of the film for example. Carla is another character that Anton gives a chance to call the flipped coin. In contrast to the shopkeeper she refuses to call the coin. By refusing to play his game she usurps his power. He kills her anyways but in refusing to call it, her death is not her choice; it is his. And it is this idea that she hopes to leave with him. After Anton kills Carla, the last innocent victim, we think the movie must be over but no he drives away from her house and is hit by an oncoming car. I love the randomness of this act – that for all his murderous mayhem Anton could be killed as commonly as anybody else. But the viewer is teased again when he walks out of the car and lives to see another day.

The audience is kept in suspense even up to the last few minutes of the film. Will he get caught? And he walks away. Again such is life, just a series of random events with unforeseen consequences leading to some unpredictable ending. No Country for Old Men reminds us that the only thing that is predictable is the desperate need for survival. The Coen Brothers have done it again. They have created a film that defies the typical movie format and opens ours eyes to the world in a new way.

Review by Patrick Markert

Grade: A+
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