No Country for Old Men, a Coen brothers film, had excellent reviews. I didn’t read any of them in depth, but just heard that it was a great film.
I watched it the other night and can thoroughly not recommend it. It is extremely violent, and presents one of cinemas most loathsome villains (pictured here) Anton Chiguhr, played by Javier Bardem .
I don’t mind baddies in movies, and I don’t think violence on screen is the worst thing in the world. What I am more interested in is the moral tone of the film, and the kind of moral universe the picture creates. Martin Scorcese’s films, for instance, often feature graphic violence. He shows us horrible specimens of humanity and the blood splatters in his movies, like it does in this one.
But Scorcese believes in a moral universe, and his baddies eventually get what is coming to them. In No Country for Old Men there is no moral universe. A lone hunter discovers bodies in the desert. A drugs deal has gone haywire. One guy gets away with the money, but the hunter finds him dead as well, and takes the loot. He’s the only one we root for at all, but we realize that he’s a thief too. He goes on the run and Anton Chiguhr sets out to find him–murdering everyone in his path.
Not only is Chiguhr not caught, but the only person who might catch him–the sheriff (played by Tommy Lee Jones) can’t be bothered. He sits around philosophizing, reading the paper and waiting for the feds to do something. In the end its the psychopath who walks into the sunset a free man. Furthermore, most of Chiguhr’s victims either don’t suspect that they’re about to be killed, or they submit to their fate without a fight.
No Country for Old Men is a deeply amoral film, and apart from its beautiful direction, fine acting and cinematography, it’s only redeeming feature is that it shows us the nightmare, hellish world of violence, murder and despair that results when morality and a God of justice has ceased to exist.