"No Country for Old Men" is a neo-Western thriller directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Based on Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name, the movie takes place in the desolation of 1980s Texas. The narrative principally follows Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a Vietnam veteran who stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and a suitcase full of cash. He steals it and skips town, but not before he ends up on the radar of a cold-blooded hitman, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who will stop at nothing to recover the cash. Pursuing Moss, Chigurh, and the horrific violence they leave in their wake is world-weary Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). The film is a contemplation on fate, circumstance, and the relentless march of time. It's a stark, bleak masterpiece that presents a savage vision of America.
The performances in "No Country for Old Men" are superb. Bardem, in particular, delivers a chilling portrayal of Chigurh, a character devoid of mercy or empathy, earning him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The Coen Brothers' masterful direction is evident throughout the film. Their choice to minimize the use of a musical score amplifies the tension and unease, leaving viewers to focus on the stark sounds of the environment and the tense, minimalistic dialogue. Cinematographer Roger Deakins contributes to the film's haunting quality with his stunning shots of the harsh Texan landscape, creating a stark contrast between the beauty of the natural world and the brutality of the characters' actions.
My only criticism of "No Country for Old Men" is the same criticism that I have of nearly all Coen movies: They never stick the landing. Their movies generally peter off without any sense of resolution because they couldn't write a third act to save their lives. This characteristic failing is especially notable here, where *spoiler alert* Moss, arguably the movie's main character, dies off-screen. Seriously, who does that? At this point, I know if I watch a Coen brothers movie and I hate the ending, it's on me, not them.
The Joseph Phelps Freestone Pinot Noir hails from Sonoma, California. This wine displays a beautiful ruby red color that is characteristic of Pinot Noir, promising depth and intensity.
It's a medium-bodied wine with light tannins and balanced acidity. Expect to a mix of red and black fruits, such as cherries, raspberries, and blackberries. The oak aging imparts notes of vanilla and tobacco. The finish is long and satisfying, leaving a pleasantly peppery sensation that invites another sip.
Why They Pair Well
As a Western, I was always going to pick a California wine for "No Country for Old Men." The wine is as red as the blood the characters shed. Joseph Phelps' Freestone exhibits a balance between its fruit flavors, acidity, and earthy notes, creating a well-rounded wine. Similarly, "No Country for Old Men" manages to balance elements of suspense, action, and philosophical contemplation, making for a balanced yet intense viewing experience. And there may not be a satisfying conclusion to "No Country for Old Men," but at least you'll get one from this wine's long finish.
By Eddie Beeby
What wine would you pair with "No Country for Old Men?"