Culture

From the Vault: 'No Country for Old Men' by Cormac McCarthy, Starring Javier Bardem

In his blistering novel No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy returns to the Texas-Mexico border, the setting of his famed Border Trilogy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones.  A good old boy named Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a bodyguard of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law can contain.

As Moss tries to evade his pursuers -- in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives -- McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines.

In 2007, Oscar-winning brothers Ethan and Joel Coen adapted McCarthy's masterpiece for the big screen, starring Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly MacDonald, and Garret Dillahunt. The film catapulted Bardem to fame, and the film itself won four Academy Awards.

Like What You're Reading? Get the best of Signature, delivered to your inbox every week. Join the Signature newsletter