Eight hours after my initial viewing and subsequent decision that I never wanted to see “No Country for Old Men” again – here I was, raptly watching it with my boyfriend. What was I thinking? This was the film that had kept my body so tense and dread-filled for two hours that I was physically exhausted and a little nauseous. Although I had respect for the film after my initial viewing, I couldn’t bring myself to mark it “Worth Consuming” because I hadn’t enjoyed it. Not a second of it. So as the tension started to become palpable again, why was I still watching it? Because this time I was enjoying it. Well, a little at least.
On my first viewing, all I could focus on was the sense of dread that filled the screen every time Javier Bardem appeared. It is hard to even pinpoint what makes him so damn scary. We’ve seen psychoathic killers before. The dead stare, the menacing voice, the worry that anyone who comes in contact with him won’t make it through the scene alive. But Bardem escalates all of this to a new level and creates one of the scariest film villains in history. His Dorothy Hamill-style haircut accentuates his large face, making him into a modern Frankenstein monster, slow walk included. I’m not one easily scared during films, and maybe in other hands Chigurh would have been only menacing. What the Coen brothers bring to the film is a sense that fate is at play, that you cannot avoid the awful things to come. These themses are difficult to translate from written word to film, but they do it skillfully. Every moment of the film is sparse, minimal – there are long stretches of silence that others would have filled with moody soundtrack. Yet, as much as it is about unavoidable fate, it is also about the decisions we make. Josh Brolin tells his wife that he is about to go do something very stupid, but he does it anyway. They are all compelled along this destructive path whether it be from sense of duty, greed, or a very grim moral ethic.
I didn’t pick up all of this the first time. It wasn’t until I rewatched the film that I was able to concentrate on anything besides the struggle. It was hard to even pick up on most of the dark humor at first. I have officially changed my opinion to “Worth Consuming.” It is a brilliant movie. I still can’t say it was my favorite film of the year, but definitely one that will be watched, rewatched, and studied for decades.