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David Poland

By David Poland

By Request: The No Country For Old Men Thread

This is a SPOILER comment thread for No Country… it has been asked for, discussed, avoided, and fought about…
If you don’t want the ending SPOILED, stay out of the thread. You are warned!!1

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52 Responses to “By Request: The No Country For Old Men Thread”

  1. Geoff says:

    Dave, thanks for this.
    I just saw the movie on Sunday night and WOW. Intense, well-acted, great cinematography, and very effective sound design.
    It was really heading towards being the Coen Brothers best film until……
    I didn’t hate the ending at all, but I am really glad enough early reviews preparing me for a “cheat” as so many have claimed. Not sure I would call it a cheat and you can really admire what they did, but I have to admit that I REALLY wanted to see that showdown. Sorry, of course, it’s about the Sheriff’s character, real life is really like that (Llewyn becomes just another bloodied corpse at a crime scene referenced earlier), it makes you think, etc. And you could make a case that Llewyn’s wife’s meeting with Anton or the sheriff’s close call with Anton are satisfying climaxes – both very well done scenes, too.
    But after all of the buildup, the cat and mouse, seeing Llewyn get a little of the best of Anton at the last hotel…..the movie-loving part of me just wanted to see that final face-off. It’s not an inhuman impulse to want that. I’m not saying it had to be all “hollywood” and have Llewyn prevale, either. But you at least wanted to see it play out.
    And I have read some blogs that were not so much critical of the Coen brothers’ choice to keep it off screen, but just the awkwardness with which it was edited – I think you could make that case, it just wasn’t as smoothly handled as so much of the rest of the film. And as ballsy as it was, I think they copped out a bit by never actually showing his face or really just giving you clear view of his corpse – it ALMOST felt like the Coen brothers were trying to keep it a bit ambiguous like some cheesy thrillers of the past – maybe Llewyn’s still alive(!) I’m wondering if any one else got that vibe?
    95% of the movie is just near-perfect that I can forgive some apprehension of the ending. It really is an amazingly brutal and grim morality tale that has a lot of entertainment value to go down smoother, a la Seven. Overall, I would mark it as one of the best films of the year.

  2. L.B. says:

    “And as ballsy as it was, I think they copped out a bit by never actually showing his face or really just giving you clear view of his corpse – it ALMOST felt like the Coen brothers were trying to keep it a bit ambiguous like some cheesy thrillers of the past – maybe Llewyn’s still alive(!) I’m wondering if any one else got that vibe?”
    Couldn’t disagree more. I’m not sure how it seems like they were avoiding a straight-on shot of his body. Between the one in the hotel room and the morgue there wasn’t much doubt it was him. Not to mention the way Jones plays his reactions and the tenor of the scenes that follow. Good guys don’t always rescue people in trouble, people get caught in whirlwinds of violence they couldn’t imagine, the world marches forward without pity or care. It’s what it’s all about.
    Trying not to go overboard. I loved this movie. I love the ending. I loved that it required your attention and allowed you to fill in some of the blanks. (Not that Llewelyn’s death is one of those.) I loved that it stuck to its principles from beginning to end. Some of the bewildered and contrary responses I’ve heard drive me a little nuts. (Someone on the other thread thought it was unclear who shot Anton, so there are clearly people out there who need the spoonfeeding.) Anton checking his boot soles to see if he’s tracking any of Carla Jean out with him still gives me chills. Simple, elegant, and not overplayed.
    I can see what you’re saying about the lack of a showdown, but there was no need for it and if it had happened, the movie would have betrayed itself. The film never promises to be about that kind of confrontation. From the start we know it’s about things that extend far beyond the events we’re about to see and the way it affects Ed is going to be central. So, it ends with Ed relating his dream. And ties up this story perfectly while somewhere out there Anton is holed up in a hotel room setting his arm, waiting to heal, and then going back out there to do what he does.

  3. Geoff says:

    LB, I am not disputing the film’s excellence and Tommy Lee Jones’ performance sells the ending, but…..
    The film is first and foremost a thriller, a cat-and-mouse chase – you cannot dispute that. The Coen Brothers dwell on every piece of minutaie of the chase – crafting the weapons, tending to wounds, etc. To focus so much on that and then just drop the expected climax can be understandably disappointing for people. It’s not about being “spoonfed.” It’s about being consistent with tone and genre. I realize that the bookends with Ed’s discussion of his dreams keep it symettrical, but that still does not mistake the fact the the movie is a chase, a thriller. Geez, and what’s wrong with that? Does every movie have to be more than its genre?
    The Departed was a thriller, first and foremost and so was Munich and so was Fargo – they were excellent movies, as well. Does every film have to be like Million Dollar Baby, just abandoning story and logic so that the whole thing can end in a “profound” or “challenging” way?
    I’m not saying that the Coen Brothers did this, at all – they are too smart for that. But it amazes me the kneejerk reactions that some critics or bloggers are having, while defending this movie’s ending.
    Sorry, LB, but the film DOES promise that kind of confrontation and yet still gets away with not having it. I really dug it, but can see how some were disappointed.

  4. 555 says:

    From a Josh Brolin interview on AICN re: how his death was handled:
    “I loved how it happened. I don’t know if it’s because of my own personal experience. My mom, 12 years ago, was killed in a car accident. And I remember talking to her one second and [slaps his hands together] the next second, nobody’s there. That’s it. So I was so pleased to see death represented in a way that was true to life as opposed to, Okay Llewelyn’s dying now, like silent movie or something [clutches his chest]. So the audience can sit there and grieve and let go of this character. Oliver Stone said the same thing to me,

  5. filmfan says:

    Let’s talk about the one big blunder in the film.
    When Ed Tom goes back to the crime scene and looks at the blown out lock in the door he IMAGINES what might be on the other side of the door. Chigurh isn’t really in that room. There are two problems here:
    1. The Coens never use anything but REALITY at any other time in the film.
    2. Ed Tom could not imagine Chigurh on the other side of the door because he has never SEEN him. He has no idea what he looks like.

  6. kelzeek says:

    I just saw the movie for the second time last night (with Javier Bardem doing Q&A). Again, great movie, definitely one of the best this year and one of the Coens’ best. I liked the ending, personally… especially the last speech and final reaction shot of Tommy Lee Jones. Gave me shivers both times that I saw it. Some specific things in the last third, though, felt awkward.

    Llewelyn’s death: It made more sense this time to me, with the slow fade out and then Tommy Lee Jones’ POV as the very next shot that our perspective had shifted, and we’re now in Ed Tom Bell’s sphere. And as for not having a final showdown with Chigurh, I understand what the movie was doing. Especially with the Mexican gangsters fleeing, we don’t really know WHAT happened. In fact, Chigurh may not have been there at all. Or if he was, and the Mexican gang thwarted any tense showdown by coming in guns blazing. Basically, it’s the first crime scene all over again — we’re left to fill in the gaps as to what happened. Is it dramatically satisfying? In that egghead, filmschool kind of way, sure… but I can see a lot of folks who were wrapped up in the suspense stuff being a little pissed.

    Chigurh in the hotel: To me, this is the weakest scene in the movie. Perhaps the shot of Chigurh inside is meant to symbolize the bloodbath that happened there, or even maybe a vision that Ed Tom Bell is having before breaking in — i.e. staring death in the face. But, it’s the only surreal/overtly symbolic scene in the movie, and feels out of place. It’s just confusing and it blunts any thematic effect it was meant to have.

    Chigurh at Carla Jean’s: GREAT scene in the house, and I appreciated the look to the boots. I can even get behind the car accident — it shows that, for all his ghostly and symbolic atributes, Chigurh is still flesh and blood and subject to the same random acts of violence as everyone else (even in the contest between man and steer there’s no certainty). However, the jokiness of the conversation he has with the kids ruined the scene for me. I felt like it would have been more effective if he had tried to pay the kid for his shirt (I felt there was a connection between Chigurh’s pure evil and the money all along, especially when he says “I got here the same way the coin did” and him getting rebuffed by the child was a show of innocence left in the world) and just walked away. The scene makes senseas is, but the tone is wrong for me.

    That being said, any and all rocks are forgiven by the three amazing scenes Jones has with the other sheriff, his uncle (??), and his wife at the very end. Great stuff.

  7. Melquiades says:

    Why do you think he imagines Chigurh? There are many possible explanations of what went down in that scene.
    I both hated and loved the ending. I hated it for the reasons Geoff mentions above… I really wanted to see Moss take it to Anton. But I loved how they played that expectation against me and left me stunned.
    The ending takes the movie up a notch from “classic” to “masterpiece” in my book. It could have been a classic crime picture. Instead it’s that and much more.

  8. waterbucket says:

    How easy it is to suggest people go watch Rush Hour 3 just because they disagree with the way the ending was shot.
    If he had wanted them to portray death “realistically” like he said, then why all the gore and graphic details of all the earlier deaths, even the most meaningless ones? Llewelyn’s unseen death feels like one giant f-u to the audience and one arrogant “We’re artistic” statement.
    I’m not a cinema expert, merely an average filmgoer who relies on his feelings to judge a movie and I felt cheated and disappointed by this movie.

  9. I agree with most everyone so far….but filmfan, that scene was not a “blunder.” C’mon now. I’m not even going to try and explain it because I need to see the film a 3rd time, but Glenn Kenny has a nice lil explanation on his blog.
    And Melquiades-I agree. When Moss tells Anton, “I’m gonna make you me special project” and they cut back to Anton looking like the cat who ate the canary…man, I was fired up. I actually think I pumped my fist a little…to myself. Wait, that sounds bad. But hopefully you know what I mean.
    The ending and Moss’s death are wholly frustrating and just plain awesome. I like Geoff’s comment about trying not to go overboard. Dude, GO OVERBOARD. This is a cinematic event that’s sparking smart conversation all over the place. It’s rare when that happens….enjoy it before we now return to Brittney or Paris or frigging…..HOSTEL 3.

  10. jesse says:

    This is a purely practical question, but I was confused about Moss’s second motel room. I mean, I understood the intent — knowing that Anton would go for his room, he got the room on the other side of the wall so he could hide the money between the two — but I don’t understand why he took out both rooms in his own name (didn’t he?). How would he know which room Anton would be
    I think the tactic of keeping some of the most personal violence offscreen was hugely effective. As someone pointed out above, Anton looking at his boots as he leaves Carla Jean’s house is incredibly chilling. Honestly, I think that moment upset me more than anything else in the movie because of its implications — my imagination did the rest (sort of like not seeing Gwyneth’s head in the box — you wait for it to be some kind of trick or something, but no dice). I really wanted poor Carla Jean to get out OK.
    Another more logistical question: did Moss stop for that beer offered by the woman at the motel? It’s the last time we see him in the movie. A friend of mine thought we were supposed to assume that he stopped there – giving in to an easy temptation – and that’s what allowed the Mexicans to get the drop on him. I think you can read it either way, since it’s both about futility… but I was curious if others had that impression. (I didn’t, particularly, but thinking it over afterward it did feel ambiguous.)

  11. L.B. says:

    Geoff, just for the record, the “spoonfeeding” comment was not actually directed at you, but at some of the other responses I’ve heard. Sorry you took that the wrong way. I was trying to be respectful to you. That said, I disagree with your take the more you explain it.
    Thanks for the go head to go overboard, Petaluma. In a second I’ll go into my “this film needs to be locked in a time capsule so that the entities that dig our civilization up in a few hundred years will see what we’d become” bit. You’ll rue the advice, I tell you. (And thanks for the Glenn Kenny tip. That was a good read. And, no, the motel bit isn’t a “blunder.”)
    Jesse, interesting question about the woman at the pool. That’s part of what I like about not showing us how it all goes down. Being thrust into that chaos and trying to imagine what happened was thrilling. Whether he stops for the beer or not, she ends up dead. No good deed goes unpunished.

  12. filmfan says:

    Petaluma…I have read Glenn Kenny’s piece and his explanation for that scene is the one point in the article where he’s really reaching. It just doesn’t make any sense as a cinematic device with the rest of the film. Up to that point characters only know what they have seen for themselves. And coming minutes after Ed Tom misses ‘seeing’ the Mexicans killing Moss it’s jarring to have him imagine (in acurate detail ) someone he has never seen.

  13. Melquiades says:

    I read another interesting analysis of that scene on Hollywood Elsewhere… the gist of it was that what we don’t see is an agreement between Chigurh and Bell in which Bell gets the money (or some of it) and Chigurh gets away.
    Bell’s dialogue in the subsequent scenes (as well as his retirement) supports this theory to some degree.

  14. mutinyco says:

    Anybody here see Cocaine Cowboys? That’s the way the drug cartels did business back then. They had no problems taking violence into public places and would just assume spray the general direction of their target with machine gun fire, regardless of whether 4 bystanders got taken out in the process.
    And that’s what had changed in the country. In the past, yes, it would’ve been Moss vs. Chigurh mano-a-mano. But now the drug cartels had altered the equation. And that’s what happened to Moss.

  15. swordandpen says:

    “1. The Coens never use anything but REALITY at any other time in the film.”
    Chigurh is certainly hinted at being something other than human pretty much from the first scene. People who didn’t like the ending are unfairly suggesting that the Coens hadn’t set that up all along.
    The Coens also did it with more subtlety than the book, which the character existed more as a literary conceit than flesh and blood.

  16. Joe Leydon says:

    Geoff: I have to admit that when I saw the movie, I, too, thought — for at least 5-10 minutes after the fact — that the Coens were going to spring some sort of trick, and that Moss would turn out to be alive. I can’t help thinking the Coens were playing mind games with us here. Not complaining, just observing.

  17. Alan Cerny says:

    I may be wrong, but I thought the shot with Chigurh as Ed Tom stands outside the hotel room was him in the next door hotel room, listening in. I’ve only seen it the once, though, so I may have to go again.

  18. Crow T Robot says:

    Brolin isn’t the lead character… Bardem is. He’s the one who has the opportunity to grow, who has the big moral choices in which the whole theme of the movie (choice vs chance) hangs on. In a weird way we’re rooting for him to show some humanity… which he does plenty of times. In the end, he chooses chance and then chance quickly chooses him. Terrific.
    (Did anyone else laugh their fucking asses off during the dog chasing Brolin in the water scene? Didn’t it remind you of Randall “Tex” Cobb on his demonic chopper in Raising Arizona?)

  19. jeffmcm says:

    Maybe Ed Tom doesn’t know what Chigurh looks like, but we-the-audience do, so our knowledge can stand in for his supposition.

  20. 555 says:

    I thought Chigurh was in the room while Ed Tom stood outside, but he left through the window in the bathroom before Ed Tom walked in, hence the close up shot of the lock on the bathroom window, which was undone from the inside. And Ed Tom looks at the lock, and then sits down on the bed like, “Damn, I know I was close to him.” Like the milk in Moss’s trailer.

  21. Wrecktum says:

    “Maybe Ed Tom doesn’t know what Chigurh looks like, but we-the-audience do, so our knowledge can stand in for his supposition.”
    Correct, jeff. The sheriff imagines the evil that has existed in the room, and that personification of evil, to the audience, is Chigurh.

  22. Dunderchief says:

    Man, I love this. These discussions about the film are so great and make me love it even more than I did when I walked out of the theater.
    One thing that gives me pause about accepting the theory that the shot of Chigurh in the darkened motel room was a symbolic vision is the Coens’ career-long dismissal of symbolism in their films. I remember an interview where they were flabbergasted by the ongoing discussions about what the wind-blown hat is supposed to symbolize in Miller’s Crossing. They said they just liked how a hat looked, so they used a hat.
    I once constructed an entire theory about what the statue of Paul Bunyan was supposed to represent in Fargo. Then, years later, I saw one of the brothers mention that they just liked using the statue because it was funny looking.
    There are similar comments on the Man Who Wasn’t There DVD commentary, where they talk about how people thought the doctor’s prominent headband reflector was supposed to symbolize UFOs or something, but it was really just, to paraphrase Ethan, the kind of prop that makes people happy when they see it.
    I’ve come to embrace the fact that nothing is ambiguous for the sake of ambiguity in Coen films, so I’m sure there a deliberate answer to every questionable or unclear moment in No Country. I would just put “poetic symbolism” on the bottom of that list of answers. Most of the time, things just are what they are.

  23. Melquiades says:

    I’m pretty sure the shot of the window shows that it is locked from the inside.
    If Chugurh was behind the door, he either stays there hidden until Bell leaves or he slips out while Bell is looking in the bathroom.
    Other options are Chigurh was in another room or his presence was imagined.
    Or they have some kind of interaction that we don’t see.

  24. filmfan says:

    1.Chigurh is not really on the other side of the door.
    2.And the bathroom window is locked.
    Look, I know what they were going for with the ‘supposed evil lurking on the other side of the door’ but I think that could have been established without the use of Bardem’s face. I think it is an unnecessarily jarring moment. I think the Coen’s are better than that.
    LOVED the film. I think it’s a masterpiece — but that section will always bother me.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    I think the Bros. were being a little disingenuous in what they were saying re: symbolism. Yes, the Paul Bunyan statue looks funny, but it’s also used to look menacing at other times – it may not be a ‘symbol’ but it’s still an image used for certain artistic connotations.
    That said, I don’t think it’s likely that Chigurh in the room is a fantasy because it would be an anomaly within the rest of the movie.

  26. Dunderchief says:

    Absolutely Jeff, to both of your points. I guess what I’m driving at (and I gather you are too) is that the Coens have never, by my recollection, tried to trick the audience. The artistry of the images always serves its own purpose. That is why I have a hard time believing that Chigurh is not in the room.

  27. ManWithNoName says:

    Am I just really stupid?
    I figured Chirguh was in the next motel room. Was the room Moss died in his room, or the woman’s by the pool? Assuming the woman’s, maybe Moss booked the room next door and hid the money in that duct, not the one Ed Tom ends up in.

  28. Aladdin Sane says:

    The lock on the hotel room door when Ed Tom goes to see the crime scene is blown off. Chigurh was there…as for how he escaped, I can’t recall if the window lock was fastened or opened. Either way, it’s an effective scene. Because of Moss’ love for vents etc, I sorta thought maybe Chigurh was in another room, listening to the sheriff go inside. Anyhow, I’m definitely seeing it again soon, so I’ll be paying closer to some details that I didn’t necessarily examine closely on the first go.
    The film is a flat out masterpiece – even the ending works for me. What’s the title of the film again? No Country For Old Men…it’s a poem in regards to that very fact. Like I said, I can’t wait to see it again.

  29. Sean says:

    In their podcast interview with Creative Screenwriting Magazine, the Coens have said that the Bell/Chigurh hotel scene was intended to be intentionally ambiguous.
    As I recall, the scene is shot in such a way as to suggest that Chigurh can see Bell’s reflection in the cylinder where the deadbolt used to be.

  30. TuckPendleton says:

    First, there’s a great thread over at The House Next Door on this:
    My take (helped on by some folks’ answers on that thread) on the motel scene:
    Moss does in fact stay for a beer with the woman by the pool. He doesn’t go into the room, but she brings the cooler of beer poolside, as she says, and this allows the Mexicans to get the drop on him.
    (It’s also a further development of a flaw in Moss. Aside from feeling invincible, we know he has an eye for the ladies — remember him checking out a hot girl’s ass in the airport (bus station?) while talking to Carla Jean.)
    The Mexicans, with the advance knowledge given them by Carla Jean’s mother, get to the hotel, and kill Moss.
    Bell arrives just as this happens. He leaves, speaks with the local law, then heads back to the motel room for another look.
    In the meantime, Chigurh arrives at the hotel room, blows up the lock with his cattle gun, and knowing Moss’s hiding plan, unscrews the vent and gets the money.
    As he prepares to leave, he sees Bell arrive. He hides — in that same room — behind the door.
    Bell enters. Looks around the room — but not behind the door — proceeds into the bathroom.
    Chigurh slips out.
    Bell returns to the bed, sits in frustration, and now looks over behind the door, then to the unscrewed vent, then fade into the scene with Barry Corbin…
    Why I think this works:
    1. We know Bell is hardly a completist as a police officer. He may or may not feel the need to check behind the door right away. (He may also feel, as I did and probably most of the people in the theatre, that if there was a threat, it was in the bathroom.)
    2. (And I think this is the key part, an answer to my question over at HOTD) Remember when Chigurh kills Stephen Root, and then turns to the accountant? The accountant says “Are you going to kill me?” and Chigurh answers “Did you see me?”
    Bell never sees Chigurh, so Bell does not need to die. Chigurh also seems to have somewhat of a code, in that the only people he kills are those who are interferring with his job. Bell, at this point, has not kept Chigurh from doing that. He’s not a threat, and therefore, not a necessary kill.
    Chigurh also seems to give his innocent kills at least a fighting chance, that of a coin flip. Shooting Bell in the back would be depriving him of that chance.
    I also thought it was interesting (and this was hinted at above) that the one time one of his collateral victims — Carla Jean — refuses to allow his to play his game of chance, it is in fact chance itself — in the form of a random traffic accident, when Chigurh had the light — that almost kills him.
    Of course, it’s even more horrifying that even an unavoidable car crash will not kill Chigurh. The worst it does to him is breaks his arm.
    Another great thing pointed out on the HOTD thread is the parallel between the Brolin jacket buying scene on the Mexico/US bridge, and Chigurh buying the kids shirt. Interesting also is how the kid initially wants to give Chigurh the shirt for free, but when the kid gets the money, he’s immediately possessive of it, and refuses to share with his friend. Chigurh corrupts all.
    Love this movie.

  31. Nicely done, Tuck…but Chigur says DO you see me…not DID and that’s the key to the scene. It suggests Chigurh as a sort of otherwordly presence. I’m not being…a semantic dickhead, but DID you is almost an offer for the man to bargain for his life, ie; “Ummm….no sir, I do not see you” and away he goes.
    However, DO you see me seals the man’s fate as I’m of the mind Chigurh killed him as well. Or at least flipped a coin.
    The screening I saw Brolin was there for a Q&A and someone asked him about it and he wisely said, he didn’t know if Chigurh saw Bell. However he said he always felt that scene was implying that Chigurh was a ghost or something “otherwordly.”
    Also….We’re nearly 40 comments deep and no bad blood! Ah, the power of cinema…

  32. swordandpen says:

    The Coens having characters that are otherworldly, but existing in reality have been in their previous films: John Goodman in “Barton Fink”, Randall Cobb in “Raising Arizona”, the old men fighting in the clock in “Hudsucker Proxy”, the sheriff with sunglasses in “O Brother”, Tom Hanks in “Ladykillers”. So, that is also influencing my interpretation of Chigurh.
    When seeing the movie the second time, I began to wonder if the building Stephen Root’s character worked in was Hell in some way, which would explain Woody Harrelson’s observation that the building was missing one floor. Where is and what is on that floor?
    And, yes, it excites me to find a movie worth talking about this much.

  33. L.B. says:

    Interesting. I took the “do you see me” as part of his innate cruelty. He walks in, shoots Root, all with his back to the accountant. Then he turns to show him his face and asks if he saw him, meaning (to me) “I have to kill you now.” Not all of his violence is hinged on chance. With the trail he left behind, he doesn’t HAVE to kill the driver of the car at the beginning, he could just take his car. Sometimes he kills just because he can. (Though I guess that’s also chance in the “wrong place at the wrong damn time” sense.) But I dig the supernatural angle, too, I just don’t buy into it completely. (I also assumed Anton was in the room next to Moss’. He’d checked the vent in Moss’ room, went to the next and Bell shows up. They come close, but don’t meet. With all the talk here that may be a pretty pedestrian take, but it’s the one I had in the theater. I like the subtext of some of the other viewpoints here, so I don’t know what to think anymore. Which is a pretty cool thing to have after a movie, I think.)

  34. L.B. says:

    swordandpen, I figured the building was missing a floor because like a lot of buildings it didn’t have a 13th floor. (You know, because that would be bad luck.) But, sure, it could be Hell. (And if you went to Hell and Stephen Root was there, could it really be all that bad?)

  35. Geoff says:

    LB, I did not take your comments personally, but I was hoping to avoid a condescending tone to this thread, regarding the ending. If you have read the blogs at Hollywood Elsewhere, there are bloggers saying that those who question the ending love “Steven Seagal” movies – was hoping this would not degenerate into that.
    And my main point was that for a thriller to stay a thriller and not trying to be something more is not a crime and does not make it less “profound.” Some of the best thrillers do not “spoonfeed” their audiences, but just follow the plot to its most logical conclusion. And sometimes, that is just not a happy conclusion.
    The movie is really quite brilliant and it has been fun watching the discussion on it.

  36. filmfan says:

    Tuck….nice job with the chronology.
    However, when Ed Tom opens the door it opens all the way. It hits the wall. There is no way Chigurh could have been behind it. But I do like the idea that maybe that was the intent. Makes it easier for me to reconcile with. 🙂

  37. L.B. says:

    Understood, Geoff. But when someone says they were confused as to who shot Anton after the scene on the street, you might can see how something like “spoonfeeding” leaps to mind. I’m not saying that about EVERYBODY who has issues with the film. Just ones that don’t see blatantly obvious stuff.

  38. In a conversation today about the film someone had the comment that Chigurhs sense of morality kind of spins on the idea that “you” are here now…the path you’ve chosen in your life lead you to “me” so fate has already acted. I like that idea…

  39. Noah says:

    Wow, I’m impressed with how much more I am enjoying this film just by reading the discussion here. It truly is an amazing thing to find a film that leads to such discourse and it is the reason why I think this will win awards; because everyone just loves to talk about it.
    For me, I just found it to be a beautiful elegy about getting older and seeing the end coming soon (like Ed Tom’s dream at the end, joining his father). It was moving to see this picture about this sheriff who sees these young people being so cavalier with their lives, taking all sorts of risks, not appreciating the fact that they are young.
    I couldn’t help but think of Marge from Fargo and wishing she could just talk to Moss and say, “There’s more to life than a little bit of money. Don’t you know that?”

  40. Kambei says:

    Interestingly, in a 2005 draft of the script, Chigurh is there behind the door looking at Bell through the lock, but, when Bell goes in, Chigurh is not there and the window is locked from the inside…no explanation is given as to where Chigurh went is given:
    Chigurh is still also. Just on the other side of the door, he stands holding his shotgun.
    From inside, the tap of the breeze-blown tape is dulled but perceptible. It counts out beats.
    Chigurh is also looking at the lock cylinder.
    The curved brass of its hollow interior hold a reflection of the motel room exterior. Lights and shapes. The curvature distorts to unrecognizability what is reflected, but we see the color of Sheriff Bell’s uniform.
    The reflection is still.”

  41. Kambei says:

    Wow…i should really proof-read before posting. Subtract one “is given” of your choice (free!) from the above post.

  42. radiobolivia says:

    I’m surprised nobody has brought up the scene as it is in the book at any point. Here’s how the scene plays out in the novel:
    Chigurh blows out the lock and enters Moss’ room. He looks in the vent and finds the money, then he leaves the room and goes to his car. He sees Bell pull into the parking lot in his cruiser and watches him go into the room himself.
    Bell notices that the lock has been blown out and Chigurh has been here. He also notices the grate has been removed. He pulls out his gun, sensing that Chirugh is still there, then he returns to his cruiser. Bell feels as if he’s being watched.
    Bell drives just out of sight of the motel and calls for backup. When it arrives they check each car in the lot and Bell suggests that he must have gotten away.
    It’s left up in the air somewhat. Chigurh could have left while Bell was in the room, and Bell could have just imagined being watched. It also never says that Bell had clear view of all the exits while he waited for backup. So, it’s possible that Chigurh either narrowly escaped Bell or that he’s a ghostly presence that simply can’t be caught.
    I think the Coens are playing up the ghostly aspect of Chigurh by putting him in the room instead of the parking lot. It actually makes the scene less ambiguous than the one in the novel. I thought the shot of the window showed that it was locked from the inside, so it would have been impossible for Chigurh to escape.
    Also, there’s an interesting bit of dialogue between Wells and Chigurh that got cut. He tells Wells that he allowed himself to be arrested earlier, saying, “I wanted to see if I could extricate myself by an act of will.” I thought that was interesting.

  43. David Poland says:

    Why would ANYONE assume that Chigurh is NOT in the room at the end?
    That is the point of the entire movie!
    Bell makes the choice not to dance with the devil. To do otherwise would, as the movie explains, just be vanity. Besides that, it would kill him.
    Chigurh is both real and symbolic in this film… as iconic as Bell (old age) and Moss (youth). But Chigurh’s moral compass, while horrifying, is as clear as anyone’s. It would be well within the notion of Chigurh’s sense of right NOT to choose to kill Bell… because Bell has not challenged his existence.
    As for Moss’ death… it’s easy. The Mexicans have been chasing him through the whole movie, the mother-in-law gives him up by stupidity, and they come to get the money. He attacks, as he tends to… and he kills some of them while they kill him… and scream out of the parking lot, without the money, which was always in the vent.
    In any case, the presence in the hotel room is a moral/spiritual issue… as is Chiguhr’s entire character. Even the kid who he pays for his shirt even though the kid doesn’t want the money… Chiguhr MUST pay off the kid he is engaging in immorality. He is tainting the pure and pays the price. And then, he moves on.

  44. Aladdin Sane says:

    Saw it again tonight.
    Went to my local cinema, instead of one in Vancouver, and man all I can say is, “Location. Location. Location!!”
    While I loved it, many in the theater were all puzzled at the ending. Cries of, “What the heck? That’s it!?” and “It ends with a dream? Was it a dream?”
    I think that this doesn’t bode well for the ‘burbs, but maybe my screening tonight isn’t indicative of all screenings at that particular theater.
    As for the Bell/Chigurh supposed showdown, well Ed Tom doesn’t look to his left…it’s quite possible that Chigurh did sneak out as Bell headed towards the washroom…or is that reaching too much? Either way, it’s an interesting thing to ponder.
    Love the film to bits though. It’s awesome

  45. Aladdin Sane says:

    WTF? Oops. Sorry about the double post.

  46. Jane says:

    Wells says at one point in the film that Chigurh has principles. What are his principles? I mean some people have said on this thread that he only kills those that get in his way or those that “see him” by chance, etc. Carla Jean did not do anything to interfere with him and I feel like she was the most deserving of her life than the other characters. Why did he kill her? (besides his own reason which was that he made a promise)

  47. Jane says:

    Wells says at one point in the film that Chigurh has principles. What are his principles? I mean some people have said on this thread that he only kills those that get in his way or those that “see him” by chance, etc. Carla Jean did not do anything to interfere with him and I feel like she was the most deserving of her life than the other characters. Why did he kill her? (besides his own reason which was that he made a promise)

  48. Jonj says:

    “He tells Wells that he allowed himself to be arrested earlier …”
    Thanks Radiobolivia for that part of your post. Frankly, that’s a part that stumped me … who the hell could successfully capture him unless he allowed it.

  49. jeffmcm says:

    Jane, his promise was one of his ‘principles’. To be fair, his principles are those of a self-centered sociopath, but he sticks to them nonetheless because they’ve gotten him this far.

  50. It looks as though I’m a little late to the comment party here, but like many of you, I’m glad to have found this kind of discussion going on. The Bell/Chigurh scene confounded my friends and me after watching the movie, and a second viewing didn’t help. I can say this much:

    1) Chigurh wasn’t in an adjoining room; the orientation of both of those doors (doorknob on the right) is wrong for Chigurh’s position. I double-checked this after reading the comments here, and you can verify it in the first trailer.

    2) The window clasp was fastened from the inside.

    3) When Bell opened the door, it bumped the wall and left no room for Chigurh.

    4) It appeared to me (could be that I’m reading into it) that each man saw the other in the deadbolt cylinder. One of my friends thought it was one-way observation (I don’t remember which now) and another friend agreed with me. My mom didn’t think either one really saw the other… lots of room for interpretation there.

    Altogether, that scene was the only baffling one to me. There are open ends throughout the movie, and that doesn’t bother me. In fact, I would say that the niggling aspect of that scene is that it *doesn’t* appear to be open-ended: it seems that there is no reality-based answer to what happened, and either a vivid dream or a supernatural overture would be out of place with the gritty realism of the rest of the film.

    I have to admit disappointment that no one so far has observed a magical detail that I missed, that makes it all work. Tuck was close, but the door hitting the wall blows that aspect, I think. But all told, it’s a brilliant, brilliant movie. The best movie I’ve seen this year, and the best Coen Brothers movie I’ve seen. Might land in my top 20 of all time, but I’ll have to go through the paces before I know for sure.

  51. Could the shot of Chigurh be foreshadowing to his scene with Bell’s wife? When she opens the door to her bedroom he’s sitting there in the dark just like he was as Ed Tom was hesitating to enter the hotel room. Sort of – yes – to symbolise that his delay results in the death of the innocent wife. Or, I could just be making this stuff up. I don’t know.
    I originally gave it a B+ but all the discussion makes me want to bump it up to an A-. It’s definitely a movie that ruminates.
    I would say that Chigerh does have morals/standards/whatevers. The kids at the end see him after all.

  52. JSNATCH89 says:

    -In reference to Ed’s near encounter with Anton in the Hotel at the end of the movie…
    I have seen the film three times and I have payed close attention to the scene in question. I believe that Anton was in fact in the same room Ed was about to enter. However, I think that Anton was waiting, not for Ed, but for someone returning to the scene of the crime (committed not by Anton but by the Mexicans) who might have the money or know of its whereabouts. When Anton sees Ed enter, or berforehand somehow realizes who it is, he flees. The window Ed looks at is, as I see it, unlocked, which leads me to believe Anton fled through it.
    Based upon the notion that Anton has “morals” or “principles,” however altered from the mainstream they may be, he chose not to kill Ed because he had no significant cause. Anton is a character that is driven by an obsessive belief in the concept of fate, as illustrated by his use of a coin to determine the fates of two characters in the movie. Therefore, I think he chose not to kill Ed because he somehow deemed it unneccesary or not in line with his belief in fate and a higher order to the universe.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon