I liked it so much that I watched it again on Saturday morning, free of the calming effects of cachaça and delicious Erdinger Hefeweizen.
Reading the book proved to be exactly the right preparation for watching the movie--I knew when to expect the moments of violence. Extreme though they were, the brutality and gore shown in the film was actually somewhat less graphic than what's described in the novel.
As it turned out, though, acts that were only suggested in the film disturbed me more than the novel's explicit descriptions. (I'm thinking here of the scene where Chigurh stands on the front porch and checks the soles of his boots after his coin-toss "conversation" with Moss' wife.)
I thought the movie was every bit the work of genius I had heard it to be, but it surprised me in some ways. I enjoyed Tommy Lee Jones' performance far more than I expected. I've always though he was a great actor, but it's as if all the craggy folds of his haggard face were just accumulating in preparation for playing this role. He inhabits it completely and effortlessly.
Javier Bardem, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor after this performance, was even creepier than I expected him to be. (And I expected him to be really damn creepy.) This is one man you don't want to cut off in traffic.
I don't think I'll have nightmares about Antoi Chigurh, though. (Well maybe I'll have a couple unsettling dreams about his horrid Prince Valiant haircut.) Terrifying though his character is, the flat affect and catlike-tread he employs throughout the film render him oddly imperceptible. He's the killer who isn't there--apart from that one awful moment when he does the deed.
After the movie, Darren and I watched the "Making Of" feature on the DVD, and that was well worth our time. Both Coen brothers and Tommy Lee Jones said that they felt Cormac McCarthy's novel read like a screenplay, so they were able to shoot it almost scene for scene and line by line and have it turn out as they wanted.
To my mind, that doesn't in any way diminish the Coens' achievement. No Country for Old Men is replete with the masterful touches of dark humor and meticulous attention to detail that are so integral to other great Coen brothers films like Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and Miller's Crossing.
I've read that their next film will be shot in Minnesota. I've love to be an extra...
One odd bit of coincidence to close on--as I watched Anton Chigurh methodically and dispassionately dispatch his many victims, I found myself thinking "He's like a human Terminator."
As it happens, Garret Dillahunt, who plays Deputy Wendell, also played the role of a Terminator in the surprisingly good Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles television series.
Stranger yet, Josh Brolin, who plays the ill-fated Llewelyn Moss, will be playing the role of a Terminator in the forthcoming Terminator 4 film. One imagines he'll be thinking of Javier Bardem as he transforms himself into a relentless killing machine.
In closing, let me simply suggest that if you happen to stumble on a whole bunch of shot-up drug dealers and a briefcase with two million dollars in it, just leave the money alone and get the hell out of there.