Saturday, February 2, 2008


No Country For Old Men

Not since Carl Franklin's "One False Move" has tension been so quiet and so excrucuating. This is no country for the faint of heart. This eight times Oscar nominated film (including for Best Cinematography, Director, and Picture), produced and directed by the Coen brothers (of "Fargo" fame) has already won two Golden Globes (Best Supporting Actor-Bardem; and Best Screenplay -adapted from Cormac McCarthy's 2005 crime novel), and has won two Screen Actors Guild awards (Best Cast and Best Supporting Actor-again, Bardem). A.O.Scott of the New York Times called it a "ruthless application of craft."

What motivates Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) to take two million dollars found in the Texas desert at a "goat fuck" of dead men and dogs, and, more bewildering, to take water back there to a dying man starts a chain of relentless slaughter by Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who, as a grim reaper-like "psychopathic killer" is compared to the bubonic plague, and wastes anyone, unless spared by the toss of a coin, in his path who is seen as an obstacle or an annoyance.

I am reminded of another, tamer, allegory for therapy, the children's book Where the Wild Things Are, and how we clinicians are willing to go to the inner world of patients, their violent fantasies, their search for omnipotent control, their setbacks and acceptance. Analytic therapy is no place for the faint of heart. We therapists must contain the onslaught of hostility directed, sometimes misdirected, at us which rages inside our patients and not only hold it, even digest and re-present it, but hold it alongside their elegance, humor, and grace.

Unlike the violence-wearied Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), perhaps so named to sound the death knoll, we choose not to retire from the never-ending task of looking at the heretofore unspeakable acts of the unconscious. Like the characters throughout this movie we follow unflinchingly the trails of blood. We also bear with our patients the unpleasant truth that the world is sometimes indifferent to us, and that terrible things can happen. Llewelyn's hubris that he can take on professional killers has dire consequences; Therapeutic outcomes, perhaps because narcissism becomes more adaptively configured or because most of us are only killers in fantasy, are usually of a happier nature.

My vote for the Best Picture Oscar is No Country for Old Men. Let us know what you think about this and other films.

Click here to visit the official movie site for No Country for Old Men

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