Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Film: No Country For Old Men

As is often the case, when you first stumble upon something great, you might barely recognize it. Like a casual conversation with a psychopathic killer, one probably won't recognize the individual as a psychopath. This film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel - is such an occasion. On first viewing the film, I thought the movie was clever but unessential.

Still, something kept drawing me back. It just wasn't the raving reviews of many friends. Behind this story about an unexplained killer - there was something lurking that I had not understood.

The first clue is that Javier Bardem's character Anton Chigurh has no sense of humor. Everything is taken with deadly seriousness. What this demonstrates is an overbearing vanity. If one was to incarnate an argument for determination within one individual, it would come in the form of Anton Chigurh. Before several killings. Anton will toss a coin - leaving the responsibility to fate. This refusal to take personal responsibility is suggestive an individual who might believe that he is carrying out a mission on earth. The killer is ultra confident..., what happens is meant to be.

One can contrast this outlook with Tommy Lee Jones character, Ed Tom Bell, a police sheriff close to retirement. Despite his years and expertise, he is unsure and uncertain about the nature of the new threat to his community. It is also a personal journey for Ed. He is aware of how events in life can appear random. Often investigations have to remain unexplained. To ponder upon the nature of life and come up short of answers, demonstrates humility and a caring attitude. But in one telling scene, Ed confesses that he thought that when he grew old, he might find God.

This failure to find God - and the psychopathic killer, is no mere coincidence. The demonic nature of Chigurh, a man without a soul, centres around the theme of 'soulfulness.'

To be soulful is to question and not always understand. To be soulful means taking responsibility for one's own life, despite random occurrences, in the knowledge that even the best laid plans can be ruined.

Ed Tom Bell's failure as a police sheriff and as a man, lies in his inability to put everything at risk.

His search for an explanation for Chigurh's activity is doomed from the beginning. By trying to understand the soul-less nature of the killer, the very possibility of a godless universe would open up, putting at risk his very own soul.

The failure to take that risk, demonstrates a lack of faith.

This film is utterly profound.

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