No Country for Old Men, or Anybody for That Matter

Libby Lee McDaniel, age 17

What do you do when you’ve stolen millions of dollars and are being chased by a serial killer who wants that money? You run. In the film “No Country for Old Men,” this is exactly what Llewelyn Moss does. Set in 1980s Texas, Moss stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong while on a hunting trip. Among the carnage, Llewelyn finds a briefcase full of cash. Of course Llewelyn takes the money, but this does not end his story.

Adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel, the Coen brothers come together to create a spectacularly original film. Loaded with talented actors, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Kelly MacDonald being a few, this movie is a cinematic masterpiece. Suspenseful, violent and poetic, “No Country for Old Men” poses the question of morality itself. The movie seems to transform itself from being singularly a “chase” movie into something that is bigger than itself: a social commentary on the nature of violence.

The film opens with a monologue from our main protagonist, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Scruffy, smart, intuitive, and on the chase after Moss and Chigurh, this sheriff stands as a symbol in the film’s major theme. Jones is so fitting to this character; it is hard to believe he is not actually a sheriff. Not to anyone’s surprise, Jones’s acting is impeccable in “No Country for Old Men.”

In “No Country for Old Men,” Moss is simply a character in the wrong place at the wrong time. Little does he know that stealing the money found would cause him to be chased by the merciless Anton Chigurh. Josh Brolin plays the simple cowboy role perfectly. Although simple, Brolin brings out the cunning in this cowboy. His wife, Carla Jean, is played by Kelly MacDonald. MacDonald depicts Carla Jean flawlessly as well, as a strong, faithful, stubborn woman.

A psychopathic, serial killer takes form in the character Anton Chigurh. Played by Javier Bardem, Chigurh’s character doesn’t believe in rules, but only in fate. With his twisted principles, Chigurh is willing to bargain your life with a flip of a coin. Bardem achieves this astonishing depiction of Chigurh with a dreadful haircut, a captive bolt pistol, and a mysterious persona. Chigurh, being the antagonist, is an awesomely terrifying creature.

A seemingly cat-and-mouse movie, in which the cat and mice never truly meet one another, “No Country for Old Men” is an epic tale. What makes this film so great is that it never outright makes a comment on morality, or violence, or any of the underlying themes of the film. It is up to the audience to decipher its meaning, and that may be different to each viewer. Without a doubt this film is clever, original, and deserves recognition for its beauty.