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Brolin defends poor No Country for Old Men ending

JoshBrolin.jpgJosh Brolin has been defending the ending of No Country for Old Men by going on the attack and saying that anyone who didn't like it just wants to see death and that if you didn't like it, what it actually means is that you did, and you just want something to talk about.

What? That's ridiculous. I certainly don't just want gratuitous violence and I thought that the ending really did let the film, the characters and the audience down. In fact I've been considering dropping my rating of the film.

I'll try and keep this as spoiler free as possible for those who haven't seen No Country for Old Men (Filmstalker review), just like the review I wrote which is as spoiler free as you can get.

Speaking to MTV Josh Brolin, who plays the character who is as heroic as you can get in this film, revealed that the film was supposed to “piss you off”.

“I love that people are talking about this movie. I love that people leave the movie saying, ‘I hate the ending. I was so pissed.’ Good, it was supposed to piss you off...You completely lend yourself to [my] character and then you’re completely raped of this character. I don’t find it manipulative at all. I find it to be a great homage to that kind of violence. ”

He says that if we were expecting something different that says more about us than it does the film:

“You wanted to see his death, why? Because you’re used to it. Aren’t you so pleased to see a different take on the same cat and mouse game?” he asked. “I would think that you are happy and it seems that you are happy because you’re pissed off and you have something to talk about all day.”

I have to ask what the hell he thinks he's talking about? He sounds like some arty person who has their head so into themselves and their “art” that they're out of touch with their audience.

Just because someone doesn't like the ending of your film does not mean they love violence and want to watch death, you're totally missing the point.

No Country for Old Men follows a violent, unstoppable character for the entire film and plays on the relationship between him and a man just trying to look out for his family and stand up for himself, all narrated by a world weary Sheriff from another age.

All the violence you can handle is up front in the film, the kind of people you are deriding are already catered for at the start of the film.

What we get by the ending, which drops the major plot threads like a brick and ties them up nice and neatly behind your back, is a complete cop out in the dramatic conclusion of two characters who are careering headlong towards one another.

Just because I want to see the focal point of the building of all of the drama and tension in the film doesn't mean I'm some sick pervert who gets off on violence, it means I like a dramatic conclusion to the stories I'm watching.

If I liked this kind of film-making where plot lines were just dropped without apparent reason then many of the films I've rated from zero to three stars would be pitched as Oscar contenders.

I would be happy if another version of the film ended with this same quiet monologue and devoid of violence, but I'd like to see the dramatic conclusion of the characters we'd been following all this time.

Even if it did involve violence, so what? The rest of the film is filled with violent killings. It's not very intelligent to say that some kind of message is being made by not showing the final few killings when there's a strong of violent deaths peppering most of the film building up to that point.




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I'm watching it tomorrow, because I love violence ;)

Wow, i'm sorry, if people didn't like the ending there's a strong possibility they didn't understand the whole point to the movie and the significance of the dream.

****SPOILERS BELOW****

It's a movie about the inevitable and, as the title says, being an old man in a country that has no place for you anymore and all you can do is wait it out, nothing to look forward to but death.

I feel that "And then I woke up." is one of the best film endings ever. The dream could represent the ability to stop evil in the world, Bell's hope to follow in his father's footsteps, the existence of an afterlife or any good in the world, etc. (all themes touched on in the film) But then he woke up. BAM

This was NOT a story about Moss, this was a story about Tommy Lee Jones' character (Bell). He opened the movie and closed the movie. He was an old sheriff in a new world. He couldn't solve the crime. He was always one step behind. He was dead in a fast paced world. That last dialogue was essential to the story.

And on a final spoiler, when Chigurh gets in a wreck at the end, he walks away from it to show that evil is unstoppable; Chigurh being the personification of evil.

This movie touched on a multitude of themes and the violence was absolutely necessary to show just how evil Chigurh is, representing fate, death, whatever you want, he was pure evil. The violence was needed to show the viewers what people do for money and how society is these days in a very raw and real way. It's no country for old men, it was a genius movie, shot and acted perfect, the ending was supposed to be extremely pessimistic, and they hit it perfectly. A masterpiece in my book, not a poor ending at all.

If this was a story about Tommy Lee Jones character and not Josh Brolin's then they shouldn't have concentrated on him and made him the central character throughout.

Sure he topped and tailed the film, but the audience are pulled into the good and bad characters and their journey, and then suddenly dropped.

I know what the film was trying to do, but it didn't do it effectively enough. It sold the violent story over that of the Sheriff and I was so caught up in just being dumped with the story ending behind closed curtains that it fumbled the closing message.

I suspect you've read the book and gotten a lot more out of the story from that.

Richard, I love ya man, but I think you're just missing it. I'm not sure if you just can't relate, if it's just not your cup of tea, or if some people's minds just work different, but from those I've seen that haven't liked it for the same reasons you state, it's just as thought they CAN'T connect with it. But those who do, like myself, find themselves completely blown away. I'm not going to go into a huge discussion and dissection on the meaning of the ending, the significance of it all, the meaning of all of the characters and actions, because I've said it before plenty of times and it's been said better anyway... but as for the "plot dropping" you talk about:

SPOILERS

The movie could have ended with the death of Llewellyn, then Chigurh killing his wife, walking out the door and then fading to black - credits. I think some people might have accepted that more actually, but then the car wreck is SO significant, and more important, the speech that Ed Tom gives at the end wraps it up entirely, wraps up everything the movie was trying to convey. And whether or not you think Ed Tom was the central character, it wraps up his storyline: he retired, but finally realized that it really didn't make a difference. He was going to die anyway sooner or later, whether he retired or not.

k, that's all for now.

No, don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing about that section, as I said in my last comment I do understand those parts after the hotel scene with the Sheriff, I think those are really well done.

When he arrives back at the scene, when we return to the wife, the car wreck...and that's the point Brolin is missing about me, I don't want to see all gore and killing here, I want to scoot the film back to before we see the sheriff at the hotel, I want to see a dramatic conclusion between the two characters who I've invested so much in to that point.

The story has been building me up to that point and building up those characters, I don't believe it handled the closure of their journey away from, and then to, each other properly.

After that the story is great, although as I said, I was finding myself struggling with the dropping of the plot rather than diving into the thoughts of the sheriff.

Again, you have to realise I gave it a four out of five, although a weak four. I believe if they'd handled the closure of the the two characters plot lines better then it would be a nigh on perfect film - in fact I think I remember saying that in the review.

It's that hotel scene aftermath that really did hurt it for me, and I'm rather angry at the Brolin comments that all I'm after is the violence when actually it's a better dramatic conclusion - conclusion of those characters, not the ultimate ending of the film.


Oh - and I love you too! Don't be concerned that we all might disagree from time to time, if you knew how much I argue and debate with friends in real life away from a keyboard you'd be amazed how diplomatic and easy going I am here! I love a good debate...as long as everyone walks out the other side!!

One thing I noticed about No Country:

The less Moss knows about a person directly, the more visual their death is. Anyone that Moss actually has spoken to directly dies off camera.

Seriously? (spoiler warning) There are very good reasons, that follow the logic of the film, for why you do not see Lewellyn Moss' death. The whole way through the movie, Anton's killings are highlighted, right up through his murder of his wife. You do not see Lewellyn die because the Mexicans kill him and make-off with the cash. Anton's too late, never gets another chance to kill Moss, and, mercifully for the audience, does not kill Bell in the roped-off hotel room. What extra resolution there could be, given this, is beyond me.

I'm not talking about seeing people killed, I'm talking about a proper dramatic conclusion between the two characters.

If I may quote Sgt. Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon, I suppose it's like saying the Sheriff is too old for this s***.

I saw the film tonight and was totally blown away. Not having read the book or knowing much about it, I have been wondering why call it No Country for Old Men, Brolin's character, though retired is not THAT old so to whom that does it allude to? That's when it hits you!

Oh and Jonathan, great point you made there too.

Beautiful cinematography and acting but undermined by a poor ending. The story makes an interesting point about the fragility of life and the lack of control that even resourceful characters like Moss have over their fate. However, subverting expectations can't add to a story past the point where this removes the very things the story relies on for its interest. The focus of the film was on Moss and Chigura's cat and mouse game which was building to a climax. A climax that happens off stage may help make a philosophical point but doesn't work dramatically, and stories should satisfy drama first and philosophy second.

Cheers Tim, excellently said and just what I felt. You've put it much better than I did.

Loved this movie, as for the ending, even though I hadnt read this full article but read enough to know that people dont think the ending was good, I went in with the expectation that the last 20 mins or so wasnt going to be good but sitting in the cinema I didnt think the ending was that bad and having read peoples comments now I think the ending wasnt as bad as I would have been lead to believe. Ill agree that it probably wasnt the best way to end the movie but Im sure there could have been worse ways to end it.

The major theme is GREED and its consequences (”there are no clean getaways”) and fighting with our conscience. It is NOT about death finding us. This is the point of the movie - move away from obsessing about death and instead look at the real root of all evil: GREED. Are you greedy? Do you fight with greed (Anton) in your mind?

Read the reasons below, rewatch the movie and everything will become clear!!! This is the one and only explanation of the movie.

There are two layers to this movie, the real part and the sub-conscious part:

Real Layer/Story: Moss finds some money beside dead Mexican drug dealers. He goes back to bring a dying Mexican some water but other Mexicans spot him (see his face/car) but lose him. However, they now know who he is via his rego plates – they go to his trailer park but he is not there so they track his wife around via the phone number of her mother (there is no tracking device (see below)). They find out where he is staying via his mother in law (helping her with her bags). When they do eventually find him they kill him in the hotel but do not find the money. Bell finds the money at the crime scene by checking the vents but he turns it in to the authorities (not shown but implied – see below). Carla Moss kills herself in grief after her husband’s funeral. Bell retires because he cannot make sense of all the greed and evil in the world (a good man like Moss dies because of it), he cannot seem to stop it (“There are no laws left”). In the dream he and his father try to bring ‘light to the darkness’ but in the end he ‘wakes up’ to reality.

Conscience Layer (see below for more explanation): Moss does not meet Anton for awhile into the movie. He initially has a cleanish conscience (i.e. going back to give the dying Mexican water). When Moss decides to run from the Mexicans instead of just leaving the money in his trailer for them to find and leave him alone, Anton (greed) focuses his attention on Moss and begins tracking him. There is no tracking device. The tracking device in Anton’s possession symbolizes Anton (greed) getting closer and closer from Moss’ sub-conscience to Moss’ conscience. Moss begins to understand that his wife will be in danger , he sees/realizes Anton/his greed, finding the phone list (which is actually the Mexicans finding the list in reality). He then discovers the tracking device at which point he meets Anton (greed) in his conscience. The next scenes are him fighting with greed in his conscience. He wounds greed (Anton) but does not kill him. Since greed is wounded you then see him talking to Carson Wells (his reasoning conscience) who says he might be able to help him and his wife if he just hands over the money (give up his greed). The hotel room across the street is Moss’ mind. There Anton (greed) kills Wells (his reasoning conscience). We then see Moss having a direct argument with his greed (Anton) and Anton says that it is Moss’ fault that his wife will now die – it was his choice (in his sub-conscious he thinks that the Mexicans will find her). Moss is then killed by the Mexicans but they do not find the money. Bell is not possessed by greed (you see him mirrored by Anton(greed) in the tv). Bell goes into the hotel room where greed (Anton) is potentially ‘waiting’ as the $2 million has not been found. He goes in there and sees the vent, he knows there is $2 million in there but he knows he won’t take it (the heads on the coin symbolizes he made the right choice) so he does not see greed (Anton) – presumably he turns the money in. Carla kills herself (meeting Anton (death/greed) was her husband’s fault). With his work done Anton finds some new ‘victims’ for greed when spots the kids on the bikes. He is wounded by the car crash so greed is wounded but then as he heals himself they begin fighting over the $100 bill (which in reality they probably found on the street – the cycle of greed begins again). Bell retires because he cannot make sense of the greed and death (we know he does not know greed), him and his father tried to shed light in the evil of the world but he ‘wakes up’ to reality that it will always be there (You can’t stop what’s coming).

Who is Anton?:
Anton is greed conscience. He is a ghost. He is not real. “Can you see me?” We have a choice to succome to greed (coin toss). He wears black/dark clothes.
Movie Poster Titles:
“You can’t stop what’s coming” (Anton). He survives the car accident and bullets but you can wound/slow him down.
“There are no laws left” (greed/Anton can’t be controlled by laws/by Bell it is up to the person).
“There are no clean Getaways” (greed/Anton eventually wins – greed has dire consequences)

Who is Carson Wells and what is the Business Office?
Carson Wells is the good/reasoning conscience of Moss. The meeting in the office is the reasoning part of Moss’ mind (the high rise office symbolizes his mind – the top of the building). The man behind the desk is Moss’ sub-conscience saying that he wants his good conscience (Wells) to stop his bad conscience (Anton). Wells (good conscience) names a date, 28th November last year, when he last met Anton (bad conscience) – possibly this was a time that Moss had conflict in his conscious before. Wells says he knows Anton “every which way”.
Moss talks to Carla on the phone and could end everything but instead insists on keeping the money. He says he has to find ‘him’ and she says “Find who?” She asks about the safety of her mother and Moss says she’ll be alright (he knows the Mexicans will find his Mother in Law). At this point Anton (greed) bursts into the office (Moss’ mind) and kills Moss’ reasoning part of his mind. The other character, accounting, is just another part of Moss’ mind probably accounting for his money. Moss knows in his mind that the Mexicans will find his wife (says the Mexicans were given a tracking device).

And there are many many more parts in the movie that support all this. Now watch the movie again and you’ll be going “Of course!” “Oh, that line makes sense!”
THE DEBATE ENDS HERE!

Matty, I haven't yet read your comment in full, but I will, and thanks for such lengthy and all encompassing input. However I have to pick up on one point straight away.

This is not the end of the debate, that's not only very closed minded to say so but the debates never end on Filmstalker and they are open to all, so everything feel free to carry on.

I'll read your comments and maybe come back with something to address them.

Yeah we love a good debate at Filmstalker, so thanks for joining in Matty!

I have to say what you just said there does make a lot of sense. I wouldnt mind watching this film again either.

Ive just been reading Mattys comment as well as reading other peoples comments about what the movie means. People are saying that other people are reading far too much into this movie and I agree, Matty Bedes comment being one of those people reading far too much into it. I believe that this is a movie about a guy (Moss) who sees a way to get out of his everyday rut, even if it is an immensly stupid way to do so ("Im about to do something dumber than hell"), gets chased by a bunch of guys both good and bad and eventually gets killed for taking the money. Yes there is symbolism in the movie and for that I think the bext explanation is on this link http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0477348/board/nest/96299901

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Matty's comment there, it makes total sense, I'm totally in awe that all this has been lying ahead & with myself at least - unnoticed.

However as an everyday viewer, it is expecting a lot to see all that in a film, especially on first viewing .. & so though it's fascinating & will make me watch the film again, I'm also agreeing with Tim, they should have had some dramatic closure for those not seeking to look deeper - then, it would have been perfect.

Hmmm, interesting comments gents, but I don't think that the desire for a dramatic ending means that I don't wish to look deeper into a films possible metaphors. As a slightly (ok much..) younger bloke I tended to just enjoy shoot 'em up action movies. I still think that Leon, Die Hard and Aliens are copper bottomed classics, however one of the nicer surprises that I had as I got older was that I could enjoy the more cerebral fare too. With a little (but not too much) effort, an Ingmar Bergman movie's just as good a way to spend a couple of hours in the cinema as watching Bruce Willis kill off a skyscraper full of bad guys. Two of his best are Persona and Wild Strawberries. Persona's a tale of the clash between a charismatic and a weaker personality and what happens when the barriers between them start to break down. You actually have a sense that you're getting a deeper understanding of what it is to be conscious when you see this film. Wild Strawberries is a gentle road movie dwelling on the simple pleasures and sadness's of human life. Here's the thing though: the first film builds dramatic tension and then delivers a climax; no one gets shot but it's a climax nonetheless. The second film doesn't have a climax because the form of the story doesn't require it; the journey's more important than the destination. So intellectual meaning isn't incompatible with a dramatic climax and you don't need to have a dramatic climax to every film. However, what all films need in some way or other is a type of coherence and by using the form of the thriller to engage the audience but then abandoning it at the end, the Cohen brothers lost that coherence and 'No Country' is a lesser film because of it. Still, I can't argue with Mr Brolin that it's sparked some good discussions.

Tim, I had to read your last comment twice to make sure I got what you meant. ;) How young are you exactly? (You dont have to answer that question btw.)

Only 38. Not quite ready for my bus pass yet. The last comment might have laid it on a bit thick; I was really just trying to say that it's always possible to read a lot of meanings into a movie or any story for that matter. They may just be in the mind of the viewer or might have been intended by the film maker, but it's all besides the point in a way. The quality of the movie's story is mostly down to the core elements of characterisation and plot structure. Symbolism and metaphors , if they're there, are just icing on the cake, not the real substance.

You're older than me Tim! I'm 37. ;)

I must say that the new filmstalkers (like Tim here) are getting a little bit heavy for me, I love all these sharing, keep them going I am learning a lot from all of you guys!

I dont care about all the crying bitches who wanted the typical hollywood ending, i thought it was great, leaves something to the imagination, something most people dont have anymore.

Todd, park the aggressive writing at the keyboard please.

I don't believe anyone here wrote that they wanted the typical Hollywood ending, talking for myself I thought the ending was strong, it was the finale of the two characters in the hotel room that wasn't to my liking. If they had just spent a little more time and brought them face to face before ending it I think we'd have had more of a power and conclusion to it.

They wouldn't even have had to say anything, just sitting there and the camera fading out. After all they spent the time for the following meeting, why not that one? Why does not seeing any of it when the whole film has been building to it make it better?

I think that point is that you want someone to neatly tie the story together for you instead of having to figure it out for yourself.

Wrong Jesse, and it shows you haven't read the comments here correctly.

Let me repeat it again. The ending is strong, but the dramatic conclusion between the two characters played by Brolin and Bardem ends far too quickly and isn't resolved properly.

Now I don't mean I want them meeting, talking out the ending and then getting killed, but even a face to face as with Bardem and Harrelson would have been enough. Just sitting down together, a look and a line would have been enough.

The ending hospital scene with the phone call was not.

Holy crap. Matty's explanation has let me finally sleep at night. LOL! THANKS!

Let’s, for argument’s sake take the stance that Anton Chigurh is the devil incarnate or at least that he is a representation of the devil. It seems like a likely theory as he seems to kill people without rhyme or reason. Then, if you look closer, you’ll notice that people who are inherently “bad” or those who seem like the type to have committed acts favored by the devil, he kills, or tries to, without question. Carson Wells, Lew Ellen, the cop, the man who hires Wells, and the Drug lords. I would venture to say these characters have probably killed another human being in their lifetimes, or at least committed a despicable act that would send their soul to hell. There are the some unknown personalities that get killed as well, the hotel concierge and the guy he pulled over in the beginning. But let’s for argument’s sake, assume they‘re “bad” as well. On those who are not so bad, or even good, he offers the coin toss. He lets fate decide. The clerk, Lew Ellen’s wife and most importantly, with respect to the ending, Sheriff Ed Tom. Hang on, I’ll explain. A point was made that Ed Tom never drew his weapon, as evidenced in the trailer home raid. Ed tells Wendell “Gun out and up.” Wendell says ”What about yours?” ED: “I’m hidin’ behind you.” Also in the opening monologue Ed talks about comparing himself to the old-timers who “never even wore a gun.” I would take this to mean Ed has never killed a man, and probably never even almost killed a man. That is until Sheriff Ed Tom entered the hotel room where Chigurh was hiding. Ed unholsters and cocks his gun. This symbolizes a fundamental change in Ed and, as Ed sees it, the world around him. He doesn’t want to confront an evil like Anton because as he states in the opening monologue: “A man would have to put his soul at hazard.”

If you watch the movie a second time, there is no question that they are in the hotel room together. And they both know it. If you question if Ed saw Anton through the busted lock hole when he grabs his gun, the locked window and coins on the floor clearly let you know that he knows Anton is still in the room. He is excellent at deducing a crime scene, as he showed us amongst the Mexican standoff carnage. The hotel scene dissolves into the next leaving the viewer to take everything they have learned so far and apply it to this “missing scene”. We have to assume, from what we have learned about these characters that neither is the type to back down from the other. Ed Tom is a “good” character, as in the type Anton Chigurh gives a coin toss. Ed is also an excellent detective when looking at evidence so he is well aware of his predicament. Chigurh only lets people go if they win a coin toss. Therefore, we must conclude that there was a face off, or at least a face-to-face meeting. Anton must have offered a coin toss, and since Ed Tom is in the next scene, Ed won the toss. It is the only way he could have walked away from that situation. If you watch the movie again and listen to Ed’s dialogue, in the scene with the crippled man (Ellis) you will find that the narrative is giving you even more hints as to what happened in the hotel, if you didn’t get it already.

When asked why he’s retiring:

ED: I don't know. I feel overmatched. I always thought when I got older God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didn't. I don't blame him. If I was him I'd have the same opinion about me that he does.


Ellis: You don't know what he thinks.


Bell: Yes I do.

Ed Bell is certain that he know what god thinks of him. Maybe he knows that God could take his life or leave it in a coin toss. One could deduce that he knows this because he had a conversation with the devil or someone he believes to be the devil.

Insert the story of Uncle Mac’s death by shooting. Ed asks when he died.

Ellis: Believe it was that night. She buried him the next mornin. Diggin in that hard caliche. What you got ain't nothin new. This country is hard on people. Hard
and crazy. Got the devil in it yet folks never seem to hold it to account.


With regards to the car accident, this scene serves two purposes. One, Anton can be hurt, which we knew already but more importantly, Anton is human or at least has to play the rules of man which include the rules of fate. He can be on the losing end of a coin toss just like his victims. Secondly, Anton got the money. He gave some to the kid for his shirt.

Boy 2: Hell mister, I don't mind helping somebody. That's a lot of money.


Chigurh: Take it. Take it and you didn't see me. I was already gone.

When Ed tells his wife about his dreams: “The first one was about money and I think I lost it.” The Anton case. The second one is about his father riding up ahead, with a fire in his horn, and he knew that whenever he got there his dad would be there waiting for him with a fire. This is the resolution of the opening monologue where we learn that in not using his weapon against Anton, or anyone else ever again, he will never “Put his soul at hazard.” In other words, his dad will be waiting for him in heaven.

Let’s, for argument’s sake take the stance that Anton Chigurh is the devil incarnate or at least that he is a representation of the devil. It seems like a likely theory as he seems to kill people without rhyme or reason. Then, if you look closer, you’ll notice that people who are inherently “bad” or those who seem like the type to have committed acts favored by the devil, he kills, or tries to, without question. Carson Wells, Lew Ellen, the cop, the man who hires Wells, and the Drug lords. I would venture to say these characters have probably killed another human being in their lifetimes, or at least committed a despicable act that would send their soul to hell. There are the some unknown personalities that get killed as well, the hotel concierge and the guy he pulled over in the beginning. But let’s for argument’s sake, assume they‘re “bad” as well. On those who are not so bad, or even good, he offers the coin toss. He lets fate decide. The clerk, Lew Ellen’s wife and most importantly, with respect to the ending, Sheriff Ed Tom. Hang on, I’ll explain. A point was made that Ed Tom never drew his weapon, as evidenced in the trailer home raid. Ed tells Wendell “Gun out and up.” Wendell says ”What about yours?” ED: “I’m hidin’ behind you.” Also in the opening monologue Ed talks about comparing himself to the old-timers who “never even wore a gun.” I would take this to mean Ed has never killed a man, and probably never even almost killed a man. That is until Sheriff Ed Tom entered the hotel room where Chigurh was hiding. Ed unholsters and cocks his gun. This symbolizes a fundamental change in Ed and, as Ed sees it, the world around him. He doesn’t want to confront an evil like Anton because as he states in the opening monologue: “A man would have to put his soul at hazard.”

If you watch the movie a second time, there is no question that they are in the hotel room together. And they both know it. If you question if Ed saw Anton through the busted lock hole when he grabs his gun, the locked window and coins on the floor clearly let you know that he knows Anton is still in the room. He is excellent at deducing a crime scene, as he showed us amongst the Mexican standoff carnage. The hotel scene dissolves into the next leaving the viewer to take everything they have learned so far and apply it to this “missing scene”. We have to assume, from what we have learned about these characters that neither is the type to back down from the other. Ed Tom is a “good” character, as in the type Anton Chigurh gives a coin toss. Ed is also an excellent detective when looking at evidence so he is well aware of his predicament. Chigurh only lets people go if they win a coin toss. Therefore, we must conclude that there was a face off, or at least a face-to-face meeting. Anton must have offered a coin toss, and since Ed Tom is in the next scene, Ed won the toss. It is the only way he could have walked away from that situation. If you watch the movie again and listen to Ed’s dialogue, in the scene with the crippled man (Ellis) you will find that the narrative is giving you even more hints as to what happened in the hotel, if you didn’t get it already.

When asked why he’s retiring:

ED: I don't know. I feel overmatched. I always thought when I got older God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didn't. I don't blame him. If I was him I'd have the same opinion about me that he does.


Ellis: You don't know what he thinks.


Bell: Yes I do.

Ed Bell is certain that he know what god thinks of him. Maybe he knows that God could take his life or leave it in a coin toss. One could deduce that he knows this because he had a conversation with the devil or someone he believes to be the devil.

Insert the story of Uncle Mac’s death by shooting. Ed asks when he died.

Ellis: Believe it was that night. She buried him the next mornin. Diggin in that hard caliche. What you got ain't nothin new. This country is hard on people. Hard
and crazy. Got the devil in it yet folks never seem to hold it to account.


With regards to the car accident, this scene serves two purposes. One, Anton can be hurt, which we knew already but more importantly, Anton is human or at least has to play the rules of man which include the rules of fate. He can be on the losing end of a coin toss just like his victims. Secondly, Anton got the money. He gave some to the kid for his shirt.

Boy 2: Hell mister, I don't mind helping somebody. That's a lot of money.


Chigurh: Take it. Take it and you didn't see me. I was already gone.

When Ed tells his wife about his dreams: “The first one was about money and I think I lost it.” The Anton case. The second one is about his father riding up ahead, with a fire in his horn, and he knew that whenever he got there his dad would be there waiting for him with a fire. This is the resolution of the opening monologue where we learn that in not using his weapon against Anton, or anyone else ever again, he will never “Put his soul at hazard.” In other words, his dad will be waiting for him in heaven.

Extraordinary movie and excellent ending!

Most people are so used to be given everything: calculators to solve simple arithmetic operations, answers in multiple choice exams, endings in movies, that they freak out when they are left on their own to think just a little and figure things out for themselves.

No Country For Old Men
No Ending For Old Brains

Sorry to disappoint all of you that have nothing better to do than try to deduce some hidden meanings in a movie that’s meant to entertain and make money. Films are not “life and death” nor do they have much of an impact in the lives of people who must go to work every day to feed their family. To me, just like professional athletes, movies are for my entertainment. They have no other reason for “being” except to make the people who are involved with them some cold hard cash. The ending of this movie failed to give me “my money’s worth” of entertainment. Just as the athlete that performs well for three and a half quarters of football but fails to win the game. I pay for pure and simple entertainment, not lingering questions that need answered while I’m doing my real job. Make movies that are entertaining, intriguing, and have a good, tidy ending...KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Those who don't like the ending, or who just don't get the ending; those who expect the plotlines involving their favorite characters to be tied up nicely and neatly; those people are missing part of the point of the movie. The "plotlines", the "story", and all of those things they want tied up are a gloss that is pasted on top of the unending violence and evil that is Chigurh. We want a nice, tidy ending, but Chigurh is playing by different rules. Fate, destiny, evil, or just plain life is playing by rules that don't necessarily correspond to the rules we wish were in place. What Bell finally realizes in his dream at the end is that his attempts to impose a set of rules that his father and his uncle and (insert would-be hero here) tried to impose was doomed to failure from the start - or maybe from before the start. The "story" ends suddenly because it was never the story you were trying to impose on the events - it was another story, or maybe no story at all, and no amount of desire or effort or wishing will change it.

Everyone keeps talking about the ending, as in the very end with Anton Chigurh, but for me that wasn't where the problem lay, it was with the resolution of he and Llewelyn Moss, that was the problem.

For having built up that relationship all that way and pulled us into the characters, building us up to that moment, we didn't even get to see them face to face.

I didn't want to see them fight, and by not seeing that I appreciate the message being preached, but to not even see them face, that's what cheated me.

I have seen Old Country some twenty times and each time something new appears. I DO NOT see some hidden philosophical plot. I suppose it could be argued that Ed was "Good" and Anton was "Evil" and that Moss and wife were "Pawns" in the struggle of life with all of the other characters necessary in the development of the philosophical plot BUT,I see this movie just as written, a man that happens upon a lot of money and in his attempt to keep the stash has a hired killer sent to retrieve the loot. The killer is absolute in his pursuit and must by conviction of his profession "do away" with any soul that blocks his intent.

The one thing I have not figured out is where Anton is in the motel room.

I think people are just completely ignorign what Richard is trying to say and instead are just going off on one about how thick people are because they want a 'Hollywood' ending. Personaly I think these people need to look past there view that the movie was 'perfect' and look at how it could be improved and I think that having a 'meeting' like Richard has said (not nececarily a huge fire fight)would have greatly improved the outcome of the film.

Yes I agree that because it never had this meeting and because ecerything was so sudden it leves you wondering why, however I would also be left feeling the same way if I bought a phone that never worked or a bus ticket that the driver would not accept ect, just because something has a lasting effect on you doesn't neccecarily mean it's a good thing as I will remember this film as been EXELENT for about 1 hour and 40 minutes but then been extremely disapointed by the sudden death of the 'main' charector. We literaly see him walking towards a hotel and then in the next scene we find out that he had died.

Now if like people say this cat and mouse chase was just a sub plot and the main story was realy that of the sherrif then why is he mearly cast as just a sub-charecter for the most part, basically he is probably in the film for a total of 15 to 20 minutes tops, now if he was narating the film I would find it reasonable that the fim was about him but being that he isn't and he is mearly just seen as an old lawman.

All in all this film is not a great film because of it's ending or story or because of Tommy Lee Jones it is becuase of the phychotic hitman who shows no remorse or mercy what-so-ever.

Lets just say you are led into expecting more and it was a bit disapointing to have just been 'told' oh by the way, that guy that the film focused on for the past hour and a half has just died by the way.

Woody's charecter was also disapointing as I was expecting way more, again maybe it's just me expecting too much but I think a 'less known' actor would have been a bit more appropriate as then I wouldn't have been led to believe that he would be in for less than 4 scenes and then killed.

Again I will repeat what Richard has said a dozen times already, there is no reason why we couldn't have seen Brolin's death, or atleast seen his final moments if only so we can sympathise with his charecter as to be fair I was so shocked at the sudden 'he's dead by the way' attitude that I wasn't given the chance to sympathise for him, infact I sympathised more for the few extras that were cast for about 20 seconds of film time but merciesly murdered by the hitman.

A bit off topic now but if anyone wants to see a truly brilliant ending then check out Blackadder Goes Forth, it isn't a film it's a Brittish commedy series but the final episode of the fourth series (Blackadder Goes Forth) is probably the best I have ever seen.

This is what I think would have been a better, more impacting ending. I havn't read the book and I think that maybe the way it ends is to stay faithfull to the book? If so it is understandable but we still could have seen Brolins final moments.

Anyway to the ending, well not technicaly the ending but to Brolins death, instead of the Mexicans finding Brolin I would have prefered Chigurh to have cought up with him, broke down the door shot the gran with his silenced shotgun...

Now wait i'll stop there a minute. Yes that may seem a bit OTT just blasting the gran with a shotgun but he is a complete nutcase afterall, it would leave a lasting memory as to be honest we dont see too many films with old women been blasted across the room with a silenced shotgun do we? Back to the topic anyway.

...Brolin obviosly a bit shocked after seeing his step mother just been thrown across the room by a blunderbus is then told by Chigurh to sit down so they can talk as to which he does, nervous, seating ect he try's to talk Chigurh out of doing the inevitable, ofcourse the audience will probably be hoping he agrees and lets him leave, however inside they know that isn't going to happen and Chigurh points his gun at him and fires, wherther or not we need to see this is up to debate, perhaps just have an outside shot of the building where we hear the gunshot and then see Chigurh walking out of the front door with the bag of money.

At that point for me the film could end, that would be extremely satisfying and I would probably sit in my seat for a few minutes thinking about what has just happened, however to complete the story of the sherrif the rest of the film could just carry on from there, edited a little obviosly to suit whats just happened.

Thanks "a.l. 9", definitely feeling that people are ignoring what I'm saying and leaping to the very end of the film, glad you got it.

I just finished watching it on DVD. I have to say I'm not a fan of the ending. Two characters that I'd been watching for the vast majority of the film, heading for a dramatic face off. Except not so much.

I'm sure in real life things like that happens, other people get in the way, stuff happens. But those two were the main characters in the film, and the ones we'd been watching for nearly the whole film. A confrontation of some sort, not necessarily bloody, would have been good.

I watched the movie, and the problem for me about the view/interpretation of Anton as a "personification of evil" is that he seems too much like a real person, I mean, he just slays almost everyone he meets. I wholeheartedly agree that this view really fill the gaps the movie leaves but I just felt confused of how can the deaths caused directly by Anton fit in the context.

Forget the ending.....the entire movie had unexplained BS. Who were the other mexicans who kept showing up and getting killed. Who were all the business men in suits? who were to two guys in suits who went out to the dessert where all the dead guys and pick-up trucks were, and Chigurh killed them? Who was Chigurh? Who was Woody Harrelson? Who was the businessman and accountant? Who was the well dressed Mexican who talked to Karla Jeans mother on their way to El Paso? The ending can have all kinds of philosphical explanations, but who's gonna fill in all those holes in the middle?

It's a movie, and people expect a hero and an orderly conclusion. It was a movie that seemed, to me, a lot like life. There are things we can't explain and things happen that we don't like. People die, some people escape death and don't even know it. Good and Evil battle it out daily all around us and sometimes Evil wins. Old men should retire and stop fighting at some point. I guess that's when he woke up.

I'm fine with films that give you more, the more you think about them. And I'm ok (though rarely thrilled) with mindless shoot 'em up films... the problem with this film for me is that it fell into a strange gap between the two - for 116 minutes I was watching a (typical?) Coen Brothers quirk-kill-fest, then 1 minute listening to a narration of a spiritual dream sequence, and then 1 minute staring open-mouthed in shock as the credits rolled.

At no point in the lead-up to the final minute did I feel I had to do anything more than sit down and enjoy the ride - just like I've done with every other Coen film (and I've seen almost all of them - Fargo and Miller's Crossing are two of my favourite films). And then I apparently (according to some of you here) have to change to a whole different attitude to the film.

I just don't buy it.

Honestly I could have accepted any ending, however strange or Hollywood-cliche-busting (ie. let the bad guy win)... anything except for a non-ending like the one we got here.

I'd just like to point out to all those talking about greed and conscience and punishment. Remember that Moss probably would have gotten away with the whole thing, or at least have had a much easier time of things if he had not gone back to give the guy "agua". No good deed goes unpunished.

What does that say about the theme and moral of the film/novel?

okay, if you were really paying attention to this movie, you would have probably noticed that there was a whole lot of implied. for instance, "the world is changing"; that is a major implied idea throughout the film. so, for everyone who wanted an "encounter" with Moss and Anton, there was one. it happened when Moss shot Anton. Moss's death was just implied. it would have been no benefit to include a scene of him being killed, since that was already implied. if the film had ended in any other way, the idea and message of the movie would have been lost; everyone would have focused on the fighting instead of the true plot.

this film WAS based on the sheriff.. there is no doubt. it is about him realizing that he should just let go and stop trying to fix what can't be fixed. he realizes he cannot keep up anymore. the movie is about his change from beginning to end; how he chooses to live/retire. Moss was just a major part of his decision to retire/live. while Moss did play a major role and show us that greed is evil and will not show reward, but the film's message was not just that. it was bigger, and the ending is truly a wonderful one. it sums up literally countless points and ideas from the whole movie.

the ending in no way disappoints. life doesn't always end in battles to decide a winner/loser. that was the point of the film. if you didn't get that, you didn't follow the movie; but don't criticize a great film or it's even better ending..

oh.. and another thing, Moss was the opposite of a hero in this movie.. so if you really think he was hero, you understood nothing about the plot or message of the movie. so don't bring down what you didn't understand..

As a literature professor who specializes in the most ambiguous and open-ended works of art, I can assert that the ending of this film did not work--artistically, psychologically, or in any sense. It was a self indulgent dodge by two taented but very spolied directors. It matters who "got" the money (and one could argue that the wife, Bell or Anton wound up with it) and it matters that Bell does absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing in the film except philosophize in faux Texas thoughts and looked creased.

So this is Hollywood...take a poll on the number of people who were let down by the ending of this film and I'd say it's a very high percentage. Bring in Quentin Tarantino and produce something "Pulp Fiction" style where we get to see exactly what happens to the main characters in the film.

I liked it cuz Mr. Sugar talked funny.

If you've already seen the film... Read Matty Bede's post, then re-watch the film. That's what i did and everything made perfect sense!
Then i watch back-to-back episodes of Malcolm In the Middle :)

They did have a (bloody) face-off and the point was, neither of them won. They both ended up bloodied and injured and then one of the main points is brought up - that if you are good (lets say Moss), you are inherently disadvantaged as you have morals and other people you care about. Even if he was tactically or physically the equal of Anton, he was still at a disadvantage and the only way to win was to get lucky (which is the usually Hollywood formula). Instead, here we get the realistic - and more satisfying - ending. Due to having attachments and not being a loner psycopath, he ends up dead because first he felt bad and brought the dying gang member water, and second he has familial attachments. In this case, both directly led to his demise.

*Spoilers*

I agree with the assumption that this movie revolves around the theme of greed, and that Anton is a representation of greed. Proof of this is at the very end of the movie, after Anton is badly injured in the car crash he limps and whithers to the ground as he can hardly move. When he gives the 100 dollar bill to the two kids (which he does on purpose) they start fighting over it and get greedy, as this happens, Anton's limp becomes a comfortable walk and mysteriously he starts walking fine.

This minor detail almost shows that Anton is non-existent and that he is just a symbol of the greed that centers around the whole film.

first, no movie, even one with such a tremendous point, needs paragraph after paragraph to explain it. It is all very simple. The characters are trying to deal with the new thing that has happened in the world, as we all do all the time. The ending is just simply stating that we cannot change the world. The forces in the world, be it good or evil, change us. It is a dark lesson to learn, but none the less, an important one. Once you retards learn that movies are just acts of personal conscienceness, how other people view the world, we will all be better off.

now having read some of your comments on the subject, I must say, you guys have no idea what you're talking about. This movie is about good vs. evil, and the ending means that evil wins... which it does.

There's an awful lot of chatter here about which character may be the central figure in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Let me add my poetic 2 cents. The title derives verbatim from the initial line of a rather famous poem by W.B. Yeats; "Sailing to Byzantium" is its name. Cormac McCarthy adopted that language for a reason, no different than John Steinbeck did when he cribbed OF MICE AND MEN from "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns, or Ernest Hemingway did when he "borrowed" FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS from John Donne. All of you should read the poem! Once you do, I believe that you'll deem Ed Tom Bell as the film's "protagonist" -- even if other characters provoke more drama or have more screen time than he does.

Posted by: Danny Boy | January 1, 2009 9:31AM
"Sorry to disappoint all of you that have nothing better to do than try to deduce some hidden meanings in a movie that’s meant to entertain and make money. Films are not “life and death” nor do they have much of an impact in the lives of people who must go to work every day to feed their family. To me, just like professional athletes, movies are for my entertainment. They have no other reason for “being” except to make the people who are involved with them some cold hard cash. The ending of this movie failed to give me “my money’s worth” of entertainment. Just as the athlete that performs well for three and a half quarters of football but fails to win the game. I pay for pure and simple entertainment, not lingering questions that need answered while I’m doing my real job. Make movies that are entertaining, intriguing, and have a good, tidy ending...KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). "

Sorry. I just couldn't let this go. Fair enough if you only watch movies to fill 2 hours with mindless entertainment. Everyone's different.
But to alot of people, movies can be more than that. They are art. The best books, music and movies are those that have something under the surface. Those that ask questions or make us think in a particular way.
Nothing wrong with a silly entertaining action movie now and then. I love them as much as anyone. But to say that's all there is to the medium of filmmaking is downright ignorant and offensive.
Alot of work and thought goes into a work like this and to ignore it and say, it's just paying the bills for people is insulting to alot of those who work in the film industry.
You've done nothing but sum up the difference between people who love and get something out of watching NCFOM, and those who hate it because 'the ending wasn't entertaining'.

If you don't want movies that offer more than simple entertainment, maybe in future you should stay clear of Oscar winning films directed by Oscar winning directors and written by Pulitzer Prize winning authors.
People don't win these awards for simply earning cash. They are the best at what they do. They have turned their 'job' into an artform.
The entire point of stories like these are to push the boundaries, deliver something different and leave a lasting impression. If you just want everything to be wrapped up by the credits and then forget about it, you'd be better off watching a kids movie.


Thank you Kevin. I just read Danny Boy's ignorant comments as well and would like to point out that the people who make these films have to earn paychecks and put food on the table as well. And when you're gambling with investors millions to make your vision, it's easy for hordes of geniuses like Danny Boy to put out shit reviews for a film and tank it at the box office. And it only takes one big flop for investors to stop giving you money to make films. So I applaud everyone who stood behind the making if this film. It took guts an vision and if it weren't for these people, we'd all be discussing another Charlie's Angels sequel. Just because Danny Boy views himself as a hard working blue collar guy in "the real world" doesn't mean the entire film industry should lower the bar so that brain dead self important idiots like Danny Boy feel like they are getting their money's worth. Stick to Vin Diesel movies Danny Boy. Furthermore, I you truly believe that these films have no artistic merit "in the real world" other than "putting cold hard cash" in the film makers hands, what the hell are you doing on this website? Troll.

Just watched this. Brolin and co have their head up their arts.

I agree, it's refreshing to view a new film-ending. But the craft and romance of story telling was lost here. You don't ask your audience to invest 2 hours of their time, commit their emotions to the characters and short-sell them with a pseudo-intellectual statement.

Good film, dopey ending. If I want this nonsense I'll go a museum of abstract art - Not the cinema.

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Movable Type 3.34

If it bleeds, we can kill it
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