Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

No Country for Anyone, Really…

Posted by mandyhuckins on March 24, 2008

Last week, someone in Colin’s office rented No Country for Old Men and then kindly allowed us to watch it before it needed to be returned.  What a terrible movie!  What kind of world do we live in where this wins the Academy Award for Best Picture?   I will admit that the actors did a remarkable job (I am especially partial to Tommy Lee Jones), which is all well and good, but can someone please explain the point of this picture to me?  Usually, I am a pretty avid movie watcher, but I have to admit that I have not yet seen the other films nominated in the Best Picture category.  However, I am willing to go out on a limb and say that I would have voted for any of the others over this one.  Here are the things I hated about it the most:

1.) The ending.  If you haven’t seen it, and you plan to [although, of course, I don’t recommend it], stop reading right here.  In some instances, I am all for an ambiguous ending.  It is entirely appropriate to leave things hanging when everyone knows the story is to be continued in a sequel (Lord of the RingsStar Wars, or Harry Potter, for example) or when it is more fun for the viewer to use his or her own imagination to finish out the story.  Do the lovers reconnected at the end of the movie live happily ever after?  If you are a romantic, yes.  If you are a realist, maybe not.  Fine.  But, this movie didn’t end, it just stopped.  I don’t like that.  I suffered all the way through it for a conversation between and old man and his wife at the breakfast table?  What happened to the bad guy?!?!

 2.) Lack of character development.  Ok, ok, I admit that a dark, serial-killing, cat-and-mouse chase over money kind of movie doesn’t lend itself to much character development, but who is this killer?  What is up with the air/bolt gun? What is his motivation for taking his weird weapon into the world and killing everyone with it?  I felt like we needed to know a bit more about him to buy him in this weird role.  Llewelyn’s character is slightly more fleshed out – his prior history in the military, the fact that he is married and has a shrew of a mother-in-law – and that makes us care about him until…

3.) Llewelyn is killed.  I admit that it is an interesting twist that the good guy, or not good exactly, but the one we are rooting for, doesn’t win.  That is not what bothers me.  The problem is that it just happens and we don’t even get to see how it happens.  After all of the chasing and shooting of each other, the viewer isn’t included in the final show down?  Now, don’t get me wrong, normally, I would be all for subtlety and an avoidance of an overt show of blood and violence, but in this movie?  Come on.

Ultimately, I just did not find any real redeeming qualities in this movie.  It was interesting in its way and I can see how it might appeal to the blood and gore loving crowd, but in my humble opinion, Best Picture quality it certainly is not.

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8 Responses to “No Country for Anyone, Really…”

  1. Wendy said

    Hi, I came over here via Becky. We rented that movie over the weekend. I couldn’t finish watching it. It was too violent for me. What was the point? I agree – that crazy guy; what was his deal? Why did he kill almost everyone he came in contact with? (Llewelyn died?)

    By the way, love the subtitle of your blog.

  2. your soon to be bro-in-law said

    Mandy, i’m glad you started a blog and I think your opinions about No Country for Old Men are interesting, but I happen to disagree. And I totally congratulate you for standing up to the huge wall of positive reviews for this movie that has been acclaimed by nearly every single film critic. I hope you don’t mind if I list a couple counter points for my own reasons why I loved this movie:

    1. There is an ending to the movie. The bad guy gets away. Evil persists in spite of efforts on behalf of hardworking lawmen. I took this as a powerful commentary on evil in the world: i.e., after 7 years and 2 ongoing wars Bush still hasn’t been able to eliminate the ‘evil’ terrorist threat, which in some places arguably has even grown and gelled as a force.

    2. The character development is subtle, but in conveyed in every action and scene In the first 5 minutes of the film, the Coen bros. demonstrated what kind of man Llewelyn was. He had a big enough ego and audacity to snag the money, but that ego was tempered by his strong conscience, he drives back to the scene of the crime to give water to the dying truck driver, a plan which seals his fate at the hands of the druglords. Even Anton’s character is evidenced by the scene in the gas station where he offers the attendant a chance at saving his life; he maintains a firm set of codes/ethics/morals despite having a macabre tendency to commit atrocious, graphic violence.

    3. This part kind of bothers me too. A friend of mine read the book and said that the book skips over this part too. I’m not sure what to make of it yet but I’d love to hear if you hear/read anything else about this part.

    I hope you keep posting! It’s fun to have a lively discussion about a subject on a blog. I look forward to your next one.

  3. mandyhuckins said

    Wendy, I am so glad you found the site and wanted to comment. From your blog address, I surmise that you are Chrissy’s sister? I went to college with Becky and Chrissy. The internet – what an amazing thing – making a small world even smaller. I hope you come back again.

  4. mandyhuckins said

    Jon, thanks for leaving such a great comment! You are right, having lively discussions is fun – it might be more fun in person, but since an ocean and thousands of miles currently separate us, I guess we will have to settle for this.
    You are also right about the huge wall of critical acclaim for this film, and you know what? Maybe that was part of the problem. I had only heard such good things about it, that it might have been impossible for it to live up to what I had heard.

    Your first point is very well made, and I do agree that this movie definitely has something to say about evil in the world. While it is true that evil exists and is irrational and sometimes we are unable to eradicate it, I find that idea incredibly depressing and hopeless. The point is certainly beaten to death that Anton is evil and apparently invincible, but I wonder…would he get away with all of it? Would some other law enforcement not pursue the matter? We don’t really know, because there is no conclusion to the issue. I guess having Tommy Lee in the final scene just left me feeling cheated.

    Also, I agree that the Coen brothers do provide the most insight into Llewelyn’s character; and, your analysis of his big ego tempered by conscience is insightful. However, I disagree that Anton’s actions in the gas station give us any real insight into his character. I hardly feel that flipping a coin (essentially leaving things to chance – in other words absolving him of the responsibility of making a decision) – can be equated with a “firm set of codes/ethics/morals.”

    Now that you mention the book, I wonder what McCarthy’s reason was for glossing over the demise of Llewelyn. I had read that the movie was a very faithful adaptation of the literature. Maybe someone else out there in blog-land has something to add on this score?

    Anyway, thanks again for the exellent commentary. Keep it coming! And, I look forward to seeing you soon.

  5. Wendy said

    Yes, I am Chrissy’s older sister. Nice to meet you!

  6. chrissy said

    Okay, it cracks me up that Wendy is now known as my older sister rather than me being called ‘Wendy’s younger sister’. HA, take that!

    Anyway, I read your entire post even though I haven’t seen the movie, and now I have to thank you, because I really have no plans to see it now. I think you saved me from a lot of grief.

  7. Lori Ennis said

    Okay, Mandy…going on your review, not seeing the movie. As far as the way-smarter-than-I-care-to-be-right-now (or could be, if we’re honest)conversation about the movie’s merits-well, you know me. I like to throw on my Cinderella glasses and wait for the happy ending. Remember Talented Mr. Ripley? What a waste of my life then…PunchDrunk Love? Are you kidding? What happened to Opera Man, Adam? Sad to say, but I am slipping into Napoleon Dynamite humor more and more and have no time or desire to put forth the effort needed to contemplate the above-mentioned movie. See what John has done to me?????

  8. dmac294 said

    Seems the internet will direct you anywhere despite your best efforts 🙂
    I had to comment here. Can’t totally disagree with your critique although I did like the movie. I think we’re suppose to be asking those questions. Everyone wants Antone(bad guy) to die but he’s so intriguing you kind of like him.
    As for the ending; based on his monologue/ dream I’m left wondering if he, Tommy Lee, kept the money.
    -Hope you’re doing well.

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