chewie’s blog

A Great Movie With A Terrible Ending – “No Country For Old Men”

Posted in movies & movie reviews by Greg Bellan on February 5, 2008

chewie’s review of “no country for old men”

before i start this review, i need to inform you that i’m a bit biased… i’m a person that needs the END of a movie to be good in order for me to deem the movie a success. i’m not saying it needs to be a happy ending by any stretch, but the ending needs to tie the movie up.

that being said, this movie was great, but the ending was fucking terrible and ruined the entire experience in my opinion. i’m sure there is some movie mastery going on here that i’m supposed to “get” but if that’s the case then i completely missed it.

the story is actually very interesting — Llewelyn Moss runs across a drug bust gone bad and then all hell breaks loose. the killer in this flick is INCREDIBLE and deserves his oscar nomination. the movie contains some great action sequences and the killer’s got some intense weaponry as well. certainly worth seeing the movie just for his performance.

all told though, i just can’t get past the ending. to me, it seemed that the movie was going along great for about an hour and a half and then the writer just plain ran out of ideas and had to end the movie. no conclusion, no closure, no ending.

sad sad sad. i’d have to give this one a thumbs down based on the last 15 minutes of the movie. great cast, great action, better weapons… crappy ending.


9 Responses

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  1. Ferguson said, on February 5, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    The final moments of this film are some of the most haunting and thoughtful I think I’ve ever seen. Instead of giving us an action-filled and typical violent showdown between the main characters, we instead get the killer (representng escalating modern violence) walking away merely injured but not destroyed. Meanwhile, we find the old-fashioned retired sherriff (representing the days lawful days of old) in a state of reflection and ultimately pessmistic fright that there is no stop to what’s coming – an uncontrollable society filled with brutal violence.

  2. iuchewie said, on February 5, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    ferguson –
    thanks for such a thought provoking response. i wrote my review shortly after viewing the movie and really hadn’t had a chance to think about it much. while i still think that the ending of the movie could/should have been better i can see what you’re getting at here.

    please don’t take what i said in my review wrong either — i do NOT require a happy ending (seeing the killer die or even be brought to justice). i suppose if we DIDN’T get the ultimate good vs. bad shoot em out, i would have at least like to see tommy lee’s character give that speech to anton near the end.

    thanks again for the response

  3. Brad said, on February 16, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Sorry you didn’t like the ending of NCFOM. For me it was about as poignant as one oculd hope for. We had just seen a taunt, engaging thriller played out before our eyes and then, without warning, it ends. Seemingly without resolution. And that’s what I found to be so powerful about it. The ending represented a nihlistic world view in a manner that drove the message home verbally, visually, and viscerally.

    Verbally, we heard that the sheriff (who at this point was us, the viewer) can’t control what’s coming. And what’s coming? Darkness. The sheriff (again, us) had a dream (a hope, a vision, a desire) that someone had gone ahead of him in the dark to make a fire and warm the place up and bring light to the dark. But then he woke up; meaning–to me anyway–that he “woke up” in the sense that he realized that no one was goign before him to make a fire. No one was going before him to warm things up. The future was dark, and there was nothing he could do about it.

    Visually, well, that’s easier, the screen simply went dark before we expected it to. Before things were resolved. Just like the screen of life goes dark before we expect it to.

    Viscerally, the film left us uncomfortable Thinking. Disturbed with what we’d seen. Just like the nihlistic point of view.

    That’s why, for me, the film was a masterpiece.

  4. Lory said, on March 23, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I hated the ending too. I don’t buy this “nihilistic point of view” nonsense. It may well explain what the film maker was thinking but as a story the movie feels unfinished. I refuse to applaud leaving a movie unfinished as being a brillliant artistic statement.

    We don’t see Llewelyn Moss die. We’ve been following him all this time and empathizing with him but then he dies suddenly. Worse yet he doesn’t die by the hand of the principal villian. He never gets a chance to go after the villain like he said he would. Don’t tell me this is clever or artistic. It’s poor story telling.

    And Tommy Lee Jones never faces the villain. The sherif never confronts the bad guy. The hero never confronts the villain. That’s not clever or artistic. It’s just stupid.

    At the very least I would have liked to see Tommy Lee Jones react to the death (I think she died) of Llewelyn Moss’ wife.

    Loved 90% of the movie but then the writer trashed it.

  5. YD said, on March 24, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    While we are following Moss around for much of the film, we want to root for him as the “good” guy but he’s not the good guy. While we think he’s good for going back to give water to the dying Mexican and because we’ve sympathized with him, he still takes the cash and runs. He is given a chance to save his wife but instead he saves his own life and tries to run with the cash, meet up with his wife, and kill the “bad guy”. That is so cliche. Anton represents “death” and while Moss tries to run from him, it eventually catches up to him even if it is not Anton.

    The movie isn’t about heroes versus villains, good versus bad. The story is really about Tommy Lee Jones’s character. It’s about how the world is becoming more violent and how someone with good intentions like Tommy Lee Jones can’t make a difference in this new world (notice how he arrives at Moss’s trailer after Anton has visited, missing him by mere minutes. Also how he arrives seconds after the Mexican gangsters have killed Moss). How cheesy would it have been to have Tommy Lee Jones and Anton have a final showdown at the end of the movie? This movie is trying to be as realistic as possible and in reality the good guys don’t always win. The movie is about chance, desinty, and fate, not a good versus bad storyline

  6. D said, on March 14, 2011 at 9:27 am

    If you’re complaining about the lack of a “good guy vs. bad guy showdown” then you’ve completely missed the point.

    • Chewie said, on March 25, 2011 at 8:13 am

      Nope… not complaining about the lack of a showdown. I just needed “something” and I didn’t get it. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen it so perhaps it’s time for me to rewatch it and see if my opinion has changed.

  7. kur said, on March 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    The ending sucked balls

  8. Sydusino said, on October 14, 2012 at 3:28 am

    I don’t think I can really offer any negative criticism of this film. The death of Llewelyn Moss off screen is reminiscent of Greek tragedy, where significant events, violence and especially the deaths of major characters didn’t occur on stage but were rather recounted later on by another character who witnessed it. This really adds a tragic element to any drama as it leaves the audience with only a wasteful, devastating aftermath. In this particular instance, the last time we see Moss alive he’s engaging in friendly banter with a scarcely clad woman sitting by the side of a pool, the stark contrast between this and the lifeless corpse discovered not long thereafter is nihilistic: there he was alive, there he lies dead – an on screen shoot out would have been too gentle a transition, it would have lacked the same brutality. Finally, to show Llewelyn’s death on screen may have suggested that there was some sort of significance in it when the only thing worth noting here is what Llewelyn achieved in all of this: nihility – sound and fury signifying nothing, as it were.

    Also, I don’t think enough attention has been paid to the motivations of the film’s villain, Anton Chigurh. Earlier on in the film, Bell’s character comments that “even in the contest between man and steer the issue is not certain”. Later on, when Chigurh is talking to Wells at gun point, Wells points out that Chigurh doesn’t “know to a certainty” that he will come into possession of the lost money, but Chigurh insists that he does know. Surely, Chigurh seems to realise the chaotic nature of the world he lives in, as evidenced by his remark towards the end of the film moments before he murders Llewelyn’s wife, “I got here the same way the coin did”.
    It seems as though Chigurh’s principles, twisted as they may be, are an effort on his part to combat and protect against what he sees as the inherent disorder and meaninglessness of the universe – it may be, therefore, that he makes decisions based upon a coin toss as a means of indirectly deviating from his own principles, since any deliberate violation against them would leave him vulnerable. What this really highlights is yet another staple of Greek tragedy: man’s Apollonian struggle against his Dionysian fate – the same struggle which claims the life of Llewelyn Moss and extorts a final, relenting sigh from Bell in the last scene of the film. As it happens, even Chigurh’s efforts prove futile in this regard, as he is left limping away from a car accident with a broken arm.

    As for that last scene, I couldn’t conceive of a more suitable ending to this film. Here, Bell recounts two dreams to his wife: in the first, his father gives him some money which he then loses. The meaning behind this is simple enough; Bell has failed to hold onto and protect the traditions of the generations which have come before him. In the second dream, Bell is riding on a horse next to his father, his father then rides on in front of him and lights a fire in the mountains ahead. In other words, Bell had always expected to be able to navigate his way through the darkness, through the traditional values of his ancestors, and eventually achieve some sort of perfect ideal by this means – then, quite figuratively, he woke up. You don’t feel satisfied? Precisely, neither does Bell – there is no closure, no success; just an unattainable ideal, attainment is itself a fantasy.

    With respect, anyone who isn’t deeply moved by the final scene of this film is aesthetically challenged.

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