No Country for Old Men (2007)

The novel by Cormac McCarthy is a masterwork, a fantastic story told with such style. The film is also a masterwork, not superior to the novel, but an extremely well-crafted work of art in its own right.

Thousands and thousands of words have already been spent by people who can articulate the strengths of this film better than me, but there is one story issue (just as present in the book) that I find myself disagreeing with people on a lot, so I’ll take a paragraph to expand on that.

Many people seem to take the title straightforwardly, and find the book to be indeed a rumination and reflection on how society has changed, is no longer a place for “old men”, a despairing tale showcasing a time more brutal than ages past. I couldn’t disagree more with that reading. The final speech signifies to me that nostalgia for days gone past is misguided, that violence is a constant. The time the book is set in is violent and inhumane, sure, but the time many characters reflect on (the wild west) was brutal and tough as well. Ending the book on “and then I woke up” clearly signifies to me the character has become aware of their misguided romanticising of the past, and that violence and depravity is a constant in human nature and society, rather than the product of a new age. The dream of the past being better than the present is a false dream, and this is extremely consistent with McCarthy’s other novels, this bleak realisation. “What you have ain’t nothing new.”

This is one of those rare films that tells the story of a master author perhaps just as well as they did.

I give it five coins, and a fire in the darkness.

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