Blood Simple Movie Review

The year is 1984. Reagan is looking forward to four more years as president. Orwell's book by the same name is at the top of the popularity bell curve. The Olympic games are held in Los Angeles and two unknown guys named Joel and Ethan Coen decide to team up and write a movie script. Their first step into the world of "Hollywood" is a little film called Blood Simple featuring the debut of then-unknown actress Frances McDormand. The title of the film comes from a slang term invented by Dashiell Hammett to suggest a murderer's state of fear and confusion, which suggests that the "perfect" murder is impossible. This movie shows one such example of that blood simple state.

At the time it was released, Blood Simple wowed critics and audiences, winning praise at film festivals all over the world with its unique look at telling an interesting and creepy story on a shoestring budget. Now 16 years later, the Coen brothers have decided to clean up their debut film and re-release it to the masses, making it even better.

This new release of Blood Simple is sort of a Director's Cut of the movie. As Ethan Coen put it, "We've taken out some of the boring parts." Because of that, the film is only 97 minutes long. But what is told inside of those 97 minutes is truly riveting.

Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya) is a rich saloon owner, deep in the heart of middle-of-nowhere Texas. He suspects that his wife Abby (McDormand) is cheating on him, so he hires a sleazy, sweaty private detective (M. Emmet Walsh) to find out and kill her and her lover. Of course, things don't always go as planned, especially when it comes to murder... and what happens next is probably one of the better examples of a modern "film noir" concept.

The movie is also filled with the little things that make a Coen brothers film unique. Watching it is like going on a ride. The camera is always on the go, creating a sense of motion in almost ever scene. Ironically, the things that have become the "signature" of a Coen brothers film were done merely by chance at the time they were shooting all of this. One particular example is a tracking shot down the length of the bar in the saloon with a drunk passed out across the path of the camera. The camera simply goes up and over the drunk, dropping back to its original angle and tracking along the bar as if nothing had happened.

The movie is dark, raw and bleak. The Coen brothers do a good job of projecting that bleak, dismal look into the picture as the characters stumble their paranoid way through the story. This makes for a morbidly comical and fascinating experience for the audience. Ultimately, the movie has just enough of a sick sense of humor that I'm sure Hitchcock would have loved it.

Blood runs.


Comments

Blood Simple Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: R, 1984

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