Re:Watch: No Country For Old Men

A startling movie which aims to penetrate the nerves and anxieties of the viewer.

Spoilers in first few paragraphs.

Spoilers begin:

A classic Coen brothers movie that often gets swept under the rug, it features an impressive array of cinematography that could be mistaken for a photographic series. Set in 1980, the film follows Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a retired farmer who discovers a briefcase full of cash in amongst a shootout between rival drug cartels. Only one survives. Riddled with injuries, he asks Moss for water.

What Llewelyn fails to discover though, is that the briefcase harbours a tracking device which alerts a dangerous psychopath as to his whereabouts (think Frodo and the Ring wraiths). Not knowing the contents beyond the treasure inside, he departs for home to inform his wife of his discovery.

Later that same night, guilt sets in, and Llewelyn returns to fulfill the remaining gang member’s request for water though he is unfortunately too late. Moss is discovered by one of the gangs, prompting him to run.

When he returns home, Moss begins making plans to evade the gang in anticipation of repercussions.

Spoilers end.

Originally written as a screenplay, the movie stars Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly Macdonald and Stephen Root. It was adapted from the book of the same name written by Cormac McCarthy. It grossed more than $170 million at the box office and was widely acclaimed for its stunning attention to detail and visual beauty.

Throughout the entire movie, the Coen Brothers ensured that both lighting, framing and acting achieved a sense of synchronicity, boding well for the final product which painted a terrific picture of life on the run. It heightened artistic measures for anticipation within the film industry, spotlighting an intense atmospheric quality combined with anxious intrigue. The directors made a conscious decision not to include music in the movie, this added the sense of atmosphere they wished to exude, ultimately paying off.

FACT: The film’s antagonist, Anton Chigurh, was listed as the ‘most realistic psychopath’ following a study by 400 psychiatrists on movies.

At the time, critics both praised and admired it for its contribution to cinema, with Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers saying it is “…an indisputably great movie, at this point the year’s very best”. Todd McCarthy of Variety said: “…a scorching blast of tense genre filmmaking shot through with rich veins of melancholy, down-home philosophy and dark, dark humor, No Country for Old Men reps a superior match of source material and filmmaking talent.”

Throughout its compelling run time, No Country for Old Men raised the bar at the decline of moviemaking, and is seen as a boundary to surpass when aiming to produce such delicacies of the cinematic spectrum. Though few come close. It analyses the complexities of human nature in an artistically dark palette, the moral misgivings of palpable choices and the scrupulous nature of lawless capitalism no matter who is involved.

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