Just like The Departed finally brought Martin Scorsese an Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture, No Country for Old Men finally brought both of these Oscars to the Coen brothers one year later. Like most of their movies, No Country for Old Men mixes violence with dark humour and complex characters with various stereotypes. And like most of their movies, No Country for Old Men does it marvellously.
No Country for Old Men does not only offer various violent scenes – but also a lot of tension. The gunfight between Llewelyn and Chigurh at night in the hotel and then on the streets is a heart-stopping moment and the Coens constantly keep the high tension in the flow of the story. What’s probably most unusual about No Country for Old Men is that the Coens defy various ‘rules of moviemaking’ – nothing in the story seems to follow the usual formulas, from the solution between Llewelyn and Chigurh right to the final moments that come so sudden and unexpected. I admit that these aspects rather annoyed me the first time I watched the movie but a second (and later third) viewing showed me how much more there is to discover in the story and the characters.
The Coens also know perfectly how to add a certain amount of humour that isn’t subtle or smart but still never feels out-of-place – Carla Jean’s mother yelling ‘I got the cancer’ may be not funny for her but it’s still so absurd that it’s a hilarious scene. Maybe the word ‘absurd’ describes the world of the Coens best – it’s a world filled with slow-witted and smart people who constantly clash and where violence is a constant theme. It’s a constant mix of realism and satire, of comedy and thriller and the Coens know how to handle these aspects perfectly.