The justAtad Essentials: No Country for Old Men
I am not a cynical person at heart. Though I am often skeptical, and usually approach the world with a certain degree of healthy cynicism, I still consider myself an optimist. Yet, for my money, the best movie of the 00s is the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. Though I do not generally succumb to pessimism, I can’t help but look at the world through the lens of No Country for Old Men. That said, I would argue the film is slightly more optimistic than most give it credit for.
While the film has a dark outlook on fate, violence and American brutality, there is the underlying message that these aspects of life are constants, and that we make our lives good within that. No Country for Old Men ends with Tommy Lee Jones’ character essentially giving up on humanity, but had he been paying attention he’d have seen his error. You see, it’s not that the world is so terrible, it’s that his worldview has become cynical and pessimistic.
And I think that’s what speaks to me so beautifully in No Country for Old Men. It’s not the world itself that shapes us. Really, it’s our outlook on life that makes all the difference. This theme is echoed by the hilariously ambiguous message at the centre of the Coens’ A Serious Man: accept the mystery. The Coens treat fate as a messy thing that we shouldn’t really be dwelling on at the expense of living our lives. So, although the ending of No Country suggests nothing but bleakness on the surface, I am more drawn to that underlying truth about keeping a positive outlook on life, even when the world doesn’t always support that.