Thursday, February 28, 2008

Review of "No Country For Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy

You might have been expecting a movie about people chasing each other. There was some of that in there. You might have been expecting a movie about good guys and bad guys. There were definitely bad guys; but "good guys"? I don't know. Reckon it might depend on what kind of low standard you have for good. Everybody was supporting cast, except one - Death.

My brother and I watched the movie recently, expecting something good from the Coen brothers, who know a good story (beyond the two scripts that make up most of what is produced these days). Loved it. Shots were great, pacing was great, and it deserved the awards it received. Javier Bardem was one amazing psychopath.

Here is what I think is the best tagline from the movie: You can't stop what's coming.

I liked it so much I got the book it was based on and just finished it; wanted to get more into the story. The movie is about as close as most get to the actual book, beyond some depth. Some of my favorite lines that give the flavor of what's coming:

Where did you get that?
From the gettin' place.

You all dont be makin light of the dead thataway, Bell said.
Wendell nodded. Yessir, he said. You're right. I might be one myself one day.

[Speaking of people on death row] Quite a few people didnt believe in it. Even them that worked on the row. You'd be surprised. Some of em I think had at one time. You see somebody ever day sometimes for years and then one day you walk that man down the hallway and put him to death. Well. That'll take some of the cackle out of just about anybody. I dont care who it is. And of course some of them boys was not very bright. Chaplain Pickett told me about one he ministered to and he ate his last meal and he'd ordered this dessert, ever what it was. And it come time to go and Pickett he asked him didnt he want his dessert and the old boy told him he was savin it for when he come back. I dont know what to say about that. Pickett didnt neither.

She got her cigarettes out and lit one and turned her face and blew the smoke out into the room. Bell watched her. How do you think this is goin to end? he said.
I dont know. I dont know how nothin is goin to end. Do you?
I know how it aint.

Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other. And she kept talkin about the right wing this and the right wing that. I aint even sure what she meant by it. The people I know are mostly just common people. Common as dirt, as the sayin goes. I told her that and she looked at me funny. She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that's a high compliment in my part of the world. She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I dont like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she'll be able to have an abortion. I'm goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she'll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.

So if the real conflict in the story is not that somebody took some money and others want to have it (which by the end of the book you are saying in west Texas lingo: That boy must be dumber'n dirt; you don't spit in the wind), then what is the real conflict? It is the fight against destiny, the fight against the end of the journey, and believin that somehow, someway, that this myth expressed in the following conversation will come true:
We dont have problems. When we have problems we fix em.

Here is what you do know: you might grow old in this country, but it won't last long...

Digg this


Odgie said...

I tried to read McCarthy a few years ago ("Blood Meridian") and more recently ("The Road") and had a hard time getting into him. No doubt he can write, but his worldview is so bleak. However, with what I am hearing about "No Country..." it sounds like both the book and the movie might be worth checking out. I will add both to my list.

vaught_family said...

I'm not saying it isn't bleak - it ends up that way. I wouldn't want to read two of his books in a row; I might want to go sit in a pasture somewhere and think about life and death. I actually have something to live for.

patrick said...

just saw no country for old men, it's unassumingly unconventional yet (thankfully) never over-the-top. the Coen bros. deserve their Oscars; well done indeed.