Walking Out Of The Theatre Due To “No Country For Old Men”


I love good films.  To sit back in a dark theater and eat up the dialogue and visual images that are created for enjoyment and entertainment by filmmakers has long been a favorite of mine.   I enjoy films that are textured and rich with evolving characters that draw me into the plot. The types of films that grab me are those that resemble “The English Patient”,  “Hairspray”, and “The Last King Of Scotland”.  Mindless and sophomoric films that are generated for teenagers and some young adults bore me silly.

And violence that seems to be the driving force for a film makes me leave a theatre.

I have never been so disappointed by the critical acclaim for any film as I was for the one voted Best Picture at the 80th Academy Awards several weeks ago.  “No Country For Old Men” has some wonderful visual and cinematic aspects that made it at times very enjoyable.  The large Texas scenery and low toned conversations made for a very interesting feel to the film.  But the violence that started and never seemed to end, and feeling most times to exist only to ‘shock and bleed’ proved too much for my sensibilities. 

At about an hour into the film I turned to James in the theatre, and was amused that he was about to ask the same question I was going to pose to him.  “Should we just leave the theatre?’  It was interesting that my thoughts were echoed as we walked to the car and discussed the movie.

While the Coen brothers are highly rated in our home for “Fargo”, the amount of anger and senseless violence in “No Country For Old Men” made for a most unpleasant movie experience.  While I want films to provoke and be edgy on the one hand, I do not want my intelligence insulted with the use of the basest ways to make a film only to insure a full house of ticket buyers.  Dead and bloating bodies of humans and animals with flies swarming around…..and I am supposed to pay for this sight?!  Senseless and ruthless killings one after the other, and I should praise Hollywood for making such a ‘fine’ film?

I am sure many will say I just did not ‘understand’ the film.  Clearly I did not.  And I am OK with that.

This experience proves again why foreign films are a better choice.

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7 thoughts on “Walking Out Of The Theatre Due To “No Country For Old Men”

  1. alntv

    I enjoyed your review of “No Country For Old Men”, even though I disagree with you. As much violence as there was in this film, I tend to believe that the violence that occurred was not as reprehensible as some of the ridiculous horror films that are made today, and definately was not in the same vein as a Tarentino film. The violence that the Coens were portraying (I believe anyway) was the kind of mindless violence that happens in today’s world. In the beginning of the film, Tommy Lee Jones’ character is in a state of inner turmoil because of the amount of violence that has overtaken our world, and it has changed him. In my opinion, the movie is about his character, even though he is only in very little of it. It’s an odd story for sure, but the bleak nature of it is kind of what the whole thing is about. Yes…it is violent, and if the violence bothers you, then I agree that walking out was the way to go. But comparatively speaking, of all of the films that I saw last year, it was easily the most efficient at making me think about how sick and out of whack our society has become. It’s a shame that the element that the filmmakers were using to make a statement made such a strong impression that it made you walk out. Or maybe that’s a really good thing! Anyway, I enjoyed your opinion and I look forward to reading more soon! 🙂

  2. Oh heavens no. It’s a fascinating movie, to be sure, but only in the sense that it goes full-on leaping over the line. It is both wildly violent and wildly sexual ( and very French). Even more interesting, the two leads who perpetrate most of said sex and violence are female.

  3. Hi,

    I came across your blog after being linked to your Ira Newble articles. I’m very sorry you actually walked out on “No Country For Old Men”, considering that I feel it’s a very important film that actually relates to issues you’ve discussed in other posts. Remember, this is the Coen Brothers, filmmakers who use violence in their films to comment on the state of our society. While quite extreme, it’s not their most violent film; the violence in “Fargo” was actually worse (remember the state trooper getting shot in the head by Peter Stormare or ‘the wood chipper’). The Coens are masters of juxtaposing the mundane with the alien, and their use of the character ‘Anton Chigurh’ perfects this technique. They create simple worlds with simple protagonists and then disrupt those worlds with complex and evil beings who force those ‘simple’ people to question everything they’ve believed (Fargo’s Sheriff Marge Gunderson comes to a different conclusion than the Sheriff in NCFOM, although I’ve never been convinced that her belief in the good in the world will remain after the conclusion of that film).

    NCFOM is a film that should be listened to as much as watched, although their use of cinematic techniques make the film the perfect blend of writing and film to come along in some time. The Coen Brothers believe this as well, which is why it is almost completely lacking in any kind of score. Unlike overtly obvious polemics like ‘Crash’, NCFOM doesn’t offer easy answers (or even questions) and instead delivers a nuanced existential dialogue on the nature of fate, violence, time and solipsism; the key is to forget that you’re watching a genre film (in this case, a ‘chase caper’) and to focus on the subtext and dialogue. Even the Coen Brothers admit that NCFOM is a subversion of the genre it appears to be a part of, which is why so many people have a problem with it. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is the protagonist, not Llewelyn Moss or Anton Chigurh; the latter two are the catalysts in the Sheriff’s realization that all he thought about his life and place in society is askew. I suppose the easiest answers are offered up in the scene with Ellis, the old decaying deputy, who advises that to believe that the world will slow down to allow you to catch up is nothing but pure ‘vanity’. The sad final scene, which is essentially a summary of all that’s come before, makes a lot of sense when watched immediately after the scene with Ellis in his kitchen.

    I realize there is a lot of brutality in NCFOM, some of it overt like the roadside killing with the cattle gun or the Mexicans at the motel, some of it offscreen but even more disturbing (I won’t say who as it’s a spoiler and against my moral code to reveal such things). Trust me, though – this isn’t a film that revels in its violence; it’s goes out of its way to depict that violence as a tearing of the simple fabric of the landscape of West Texas during a time when drugs and violence were being introduced to our country in a way never dreamed of before (to wit, see what the methamphetime trade has done to the simplicity of middle America over the last twenty years; it’s a scourge upon this society whose repurcussions are just now being realized by people who, much like Sheriff Bell, were ill-prepared for such a cataclysmic shift in the social mores of their relatively idyllic world).

    In a way, this film is a mashup of several earlier Coen films, especially Blood Simple, Raising Arizona and Fargo; however, it takes the themes addressed in those films to a much higher level. It’s infuriating but with a great philosophical reward if you give it a chance. Now that it’s on DVD, I highly recommend that you take a second look.

    PS If you think foreign films aren’t capable of depicting such cruelty and horror, I highly recommend that you see ‘Man Bites Dog’ (Belgium), ‘Irreversible’ (France), and ‘Salo: 120 Days of Sodom’ (Italy); NCFOM is like an episode of Sesame Street compared to these Boschian horrors.

  4. Thanks to all for the wonderful thoughts about this movie, and other films, along with the time you took to respond to this post. As a lover of films I appreciate it very much!

  5. Pat

    The movie, like the book, is about violence. Symoblized by Chigurh’s character, violence has no identitiy. We learn nothing about Chigurh. Other than he’s a killer, and very a good one, at that. We don’t know where he’s from, where he’s been, where he’s going or who he is for that matter. Like violent acts we do not understand why Chigurh does the things he does. His killing of the deputy sherrif in the opening of the film is completley arbitrary. He does it meerly for the reason of seeing if he could get away with it. Violent acts are hard for us to comprehend as are the actions of Chigurh. The fact that Chigurh is perhaps the most mentally stable character of the film seems to slip by most of us.

    Every character we are introduced to in the movie shows us evidence of baggage of some sort, except for Chigurh. Like most of the violence we experience in our lives he comes without warning, reason, remorse, and leaves without explanation or afterthought.

    Chigurhs killings in the movie were not about revenge, his whole purpose of recovering the money is to establish a clientel basis.

    Anyway, I’d ramble more but theres a cigarette calling my name and no one will probably make it this far.

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