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New On Netflix: No Country For Old Men

written by rick July 29, 2016
New On Netflix: No Country For Old Men

The Coen Brothers’ filmography tends to swing wildly from lighthearted, goofball larks to existential nightmare tours of wounded psyches and uneasy human relations in a fallen world. (A good argument can, and has, been made that the two modes are in direct conversation.) 2007’s acclaimed No Country For Old Men, new to Netflix in August, is firmly in the second category.

Based on Cormac McCarthy’s typically brooding novel, and featuring three gripping central performances (from Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem), No Country For Old Men tells a grim, Western tale of bad choices and incomprehensible evil. Six years prior to sending folksinger Llewyn Davis on “a stroll through the outermost circle of hell”, the Coens dove directly to its center.

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Like nearly all their films, No Country rolls out with a sense of inevitability and inscrutability, as things compound in ways no one seems able to control. Bardem’s now-iconic villain — if villian is even the word for personified, unknowable menace — haunts the countryside, a figure of lurking doom. The film’s closing moment, sometimes disparaged for opacity but more often recognized as the masterstroke it is, explains nothing. There is nothing to explain here. We’re in the dark heart and soul of the compromised West, and answers will not be forthcoming.

If you haven’t seen No Country For Old Men, get to it. It’s available on Netflix on August 11th.

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