Watching Fargo and No Country For Old Men back to back, I realized how similar the two pictures were, something I had never really noticed before. I found regular Coen brothers’ trademarks in both films when I first viewed, such as the offbeat characters, but I found the movies very much parallel each other. In a sense, No Country For Old Men isn’t just an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel but in a sense a remake of Fargo.
Both films exist in rural lands, in Fargo the snowy plains of Minneapolis and in No Country For Old Men the desolate deserts of Texas. Both of them are stories where violence erupts out of nowhere (in Fargo from two low life criminals Carl and Gaear and in NCFOM from Anton Chirgurh) that stem from unresolved issues (in Fargo Jerry Lundegaard’s attempt to find a way to pay off a loan and in NCFOM Llewelyn Moss’ theft of a satchel full of drug money).
But not only do they share similar stories but a similar protagonist. Tommy Lee Jones’ Sheriff Ed Tom Bell isn’t too different from Frances McDormand’s chipper police chief Marge Gunderson. Both of them observe the heinous crimes that happen in their towns and comment on society’s morality. By both films’ end, the characters see the same things in life happen again about corruption in everyday life.
Before, it would be difficult for me to decide which was the better between the two films (I consider both flawless films). However, after reconsidering, I believe No Country For Old Men to be the stronger of the two. It is in depth a character study rich with details and metaphors and ranks as one of the best films of the 21st century. 2007 was a fantastic year of cinema between this and There Will Be Blood, perhaps the best year for movies in the past ten years.