No Country for Old Men
From a cinematic standpoint NCFOM is a brilliantly filmed and well-told story about what happens to people when trouble comes to an already troubled town. This film reminds me on an artistic level of Lost in Translation, the wonderful Coppola tale of relational emptiness and satisfaction found in the same space at the same time. And like LIT, NCFOM promises to be hated. Hated because, unlike the spoon-fed drive-thru movies that most feed on, this film requires paying attention and neither film ends smoothly in tidy zip-loc bags.
As I watched this latest Cohen brothers offering, I was immediately brought into a theological festival where accurate observations of human depravity danced around the stage but never actually performed the right ballet. Evil is the theme of this film, but also how we deal with it. The personification of all that we fear and all that we cannot escape is Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem. Wickedness is always with us and we always seem to see it worse in others, yet it lingers around the shadows we ourselves cast like ready-to-eat chocolates that we know will rot our teeth. Eating them is no problem, but not being tempted to taste them is the battle. In discussing the observance of this fight Sheriffs Roscoe and Ed Tom Bell relate their sense of hopelessness:
Roscoe: “It’s all about the money… the money and the drugs… it’s just… beyond everything. What’s it mean? What’s it leading to? Ya know, if you’da told me twenty years ago that I’d see children walking the streets of our Texas towns with green hair and bones in their noses, I just flat out wouldn’t of believed it.
Bell: “Signs and wonders. But I think once you stop hearin’ “sir” and “maam” the rest is soon to follow.
Roscoe: “It’s the tide. It’s the dismal tide. It is not the one thing.
Bell: “Not the one thing. I used to think I could at least some way put things right. I don’t feel that way no more.”
Indeed, we can’t ‘put things right‘ for only God the final Judge can and will do that. Like Dawkins’ lemmings the characters pirouette right past the obvious and revealed showing once again man’s inability to see clearly until his scales have been removed. The film’s inability to ascend to the Truth while dancing on the self-evident is just like those who see plainly the evidence for Intelligent Design and yet choose to paint for us the impersonal fate and determined chance found in a coin flip rather than believing in the God who is there.
In another scene we do see a sobering moment of reflection when Sheriff Bell is confronted about his decision to retire from law enforcement:
Bell: “… 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.”
Yes, we do. We have God’s Word to inform us so we are not left without knowledge. Our ills are not temporally set they are eternally decreed and the One who can release us and free us from destruction and death and deception and misery is the only One who is good. Pray for the salvation of our souls.