No Country for Old Men
Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen (R)
Good and evil meet in a showdown in the American West.
Cormac McCarthy and the Coen brothers form “a marriage made in heaven or, more likely, in hell,” said Andrew Sarris in The New York Observer. Following McCarthy’s 2005 novel almost scene for scene, Ethan and Joel Coen, who share writing and directing credits, have contrived a staggeringly beautiful, stark, and lonely portrait of the changing face of the American West. No Country for Old Men is a “densely woven crime story” about three men in a drawn-out chase through West Texas in 1980, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. Josh Brolin plays a welder who finds $2 million and decides to keep it. Tommy Lee Jones is the sheriff on Brolin’s tail, while Javier Bardem, looking like a “lost Beatle from hell,” is a sociopathic killer who wants his money back. Like McCarthy, the Coens use “familiar elements of American pop culture and features of particular American landscapes to create elaborate and hermetic worlds.” Their perilous comical sense has always teetered on the perverse, and here they “amplify the material’s dark, rueful humor” as well as its allegorical elements. The Coens play with fate and circumstance to break all the rules of the Western, said Larry McMurtry in Newsweek. No Country is a morality tale in which all the characters are ultimately equally culpable. It seems to subscribe to “that old cowboy maxim: ‘There ain’t a horse that can’t be rode, there ain’t a man that can’t be throw’d.’”