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Joel and Ethan Coen became filmmaking legends in their own time with their brutal crime caper “Fargo” back in the 90s. They reached beyond their cult indie filmmaking status with the mainstream success of their dark comedy “O Brother Where Art Thou?” Their latest film, “No Country for Old Men,” once again examines a crime gone awry, but ) “No Country” (adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy) surpasses their previous efforts.
Terrifying, thought-provoking, and visually stunning, “No Country” has already won the coveted New York Film Critics Circle award as this year’s best and it is destined to receive numerous awards at Oscar time.


Set against the Southwest desert along the Mexican border, a Vietnam vet, Llewelyn Moss, is out hunting antelope one day when he comes across the aftermath of a horrendous murdering spree. Mixed in with the carnage, Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers huge amounts of drugs and one serious stash of cash. A split-second decision turns fateful for Moss as he decides to take the money, only to enter into a psychotic game of cat and mouse when a serial killer named Chigurh (Javier Bardem, destined to win an Oscar for the role) tracks him down to regain the fortune.
To say anything more about the plot would destroy much of the suspense- not to mention the raw emotional power of this story – but I will say that “No Country” is a prophetic work. Whereas “Fargo” seemed to revolve around one particular man’s folly, “No Country” raises questions of apocalyptic proportions about the very nature of violence and morality in our society. (The movie also does for hotel rooms what “Psycho” did for showers.)
While one could argue that God seems to be nonexistent in the Coens’ previous efforts, I would say that at least some of “No Country”‘s characters are hoping and longing for God to appear- and soon. They seem to be aware of their own depravity from the very beginning of the story and realize they need help if they are ever to find a better way of living. The acts of mercy sprinkled throughout the film seemed to be a frustrated belief that if one is merciful, at some point one will receive mercy in return. There is even a deliberate rejection of fate by Moss’s wife that makes me think that it is actually her own declaration of faith that there has to be something more in the afterlife.
So while “No Country for Old Men” is definitely the bleakest of the Coen brothers’ works and is probably one of the darkest movies of the year, I give it credit for asking all of the right questions, even if it doesn’t provide any answers.

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