One of my favorite movies of all time and favorite endings of a movie is No Country For Old Men. Probably because it’s based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy who happens to be one of my favorite authors of all time.
First of all, can’t believe it was 11 years ago already. I just had to go look up some deets and saw the release date: 2007. It feels like it was 5, maybe 6 years ago, 7 tops. But no. 11 years ago. I had a completely different life 11 years ago. Didn’t you?
Anyway, one of the reasons I liked the movie is a reason that became more important to me once I got past the age of around 35: most of the characters are *real adults.*
Okay, yeah, the title gives it away that at least a few *old men* will be in the story. But, still, when, exactly, did the trend start of casting young’uns for everything in movies? 23-year-olds with several advanced degrees and expertise in myriad subjects, world travelers who, before 30, built bridges in third-world countries, re-constructed dams, reverse-engineered alien spacecraft?
No Country for Old Men was one of the first times I realized that Josh Brolin was a pretty good actor. Check him out in True Grit and the more recent Sicario. All of the performances stand out in this movie, though, in my opinion, including the chilling and emotionless Chigurh, the laid-back subtlety of Woody Harrelson, and, of course, the beauty of Tommy Lee Jones’ restrained Midwestern angst.
Do you ever notice overwhelming music arrangements blasting your ears off during exciting movie moments? When Josh Brolin’s character is fleeing the sinister Chigurh at one point, engaged in a run and gun in the deserted streets of a sleeping town, there’s no sound but that of their labored breathing, and their footsteps, and, of course, gunfire, all of which amplified the fear and anxiety without a pounding soundtrack.
But to the ending, to the ending. It’s not even a real spoiler, ‘cause I’m not talking about the pivotal situations that happen before the actual ending. But Tommy Lee Jones, recounting two dreams he had about his father to his wife, describes being in the mountains and riding on horseback, as if they were back in olden times.
He says, “When he rode past, I seen he was carryin’ fire in a horn the way people used to do, and I could see the horn from the light inside of it – about the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin’ on ahead and he was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold. And I knew that whenever I got there, he’d be there. And then I woke up.”
Aside from the inherent poetry of the monologue, richly symbolic, I love everything about that scene: the light through the window, his expression, his unhurried delivery. It holds on Mr. Jones’ lined, sad face for a moment or two, then cuts to black.
There are some others. But I haven’t seen too many movies, before or after, with the balls to end that way.