I must say that I didn’t quite expect the film No Country for Old Men to be a literary master piece in film form. Like all good pieces that are faithful to the form, there are no happy endings, or no conclusions drawn, just a vague and distant look into the hopeful wasteland that is humanity.
Javier Bardem plays a middle-aged emo psycho hitman with a longish mop. He is out to retrieve money from a Mexican mafia drug transaction gone wrong. Tommy Lee Jones is a sheriff on the verge of retiring and the man of the law on the case. Josh Brolin is a simple man, a welder from Texas, who stumbles upon said scene and grabs cash, thereby setting off a chain of events.
Javier is the symbolic harbringer of fate and chance. He being a psychopathic hitman, meaning the odds are not in your favor. At one point he stakes a gas station owner’s life on the flip of the coin, unbeknownst to the man and eventually walking away. Javier is far from the stereotypical hitman. He is weird, violent, and random. Yet he manages to draw you into his character and make you wonder what makes this psycho tick. I was surprised to find out Javier is actually a Spanish actor who only started appearing in Hollywood productions very recently.
Josh is a man suddenly given the chance to leave the struggling life behind and make a new start with his loving wife. Of course, he has to make it out alive. Little does he know what he’s up to.
The film is unique in that it’s essentially the story of three men set against the desolate, yet majestic landscapes of Texas that metaphorically express man’s struggle against fate and nature. Triumph is only fleeting while resignation so easy. The three men’s destiny becomes increasingly intertwined before silently unravelling. There isn’t a single frame in the movie where the characters appear together or with each other.
It’s a movie with a plot you could summarize in a sentence yet not be able to really explain all the intricacies implicitly expressed in the plot if given days. It’s a rare literary piece in film form.