No Country for Old Men by the Coen Brothers

I was disappointed when Llewelyn was killed. It seemed so purposeless or needless after all he had been through. It diminished his importance to the story immediately. This shifted my expectations and opened me to what the rest of the story had in store for me.

It is interesting how watching a film twice can bring about a different response each time. Plot is the driver of this story but theme and character are close seconds. I feel like there is a balance between all three. However, plot wins because we all want Llewelyn to get the money. And money is something that will get all of our attention.

However, after awhile, I was wondering if 2 million was worth all the slaughter and became suspicious that this movie had a different motive. That is when the hunter and hunted theme became more apparent and as a second sub-theme, if you will, is morality. The principles Chigurh lived by were egocentric and crazy, but principles nonetheless. He felt he was an arbiter of death that people could flip a coin to escape, but that by being in his presence had a fate of death. And the principles the Sheriff and his older friend and his brother live by are equally rigid and nonsensical in this day and age. To say that as soon as “Sir and Madam” are not used everything is going down hill. The only difference is that they don’t kill people who don’t follow their principles like Chigurh does.

Then there is the character study. Each character’s unique flaws bring them to behave in certain ways in different situations. We see them in each of these situations. I’m struck my Llewelyn’s wife, who may have been able to escape death but was too much of a character analizer herself to make the right decision and flip the damn coin. Well, she was also a bit on the dumb side. Bless her.

Ok, so who the main character is is a tough one. I’m going with the Sheriff. I appreciated how we learned that he was retiring, in the middle of the film, instead of at the beginning like in some other Hollywood films. We also are in his head quite a bit more than in Llewelyn’s, even though he would be a close second choice if he hadn’t been killed off. Chigurh could be a main character, but instead I think he was the main character we studied. He also drove the theme with his amazing tracking skills.

I think the use of diegetic sound throughout the film was an artful move that emphasized the realities of life in the desert-land of Texas. Not all of Texas is like this, or has such an emphasis on the rural life as this film depicts, but it is for real. So in some sense there is a documentary quality about this film as we enter the world of crime near the borderland in Texas.

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