In the first Coen Brothers film, the owner of a seedy small-town Texas bar discovers that one of his employees is having an affair with his wife. A chaotic chain of misunderstandings, lies and mischief ensues after he devises a plot to have them murdered.
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The further trouble with Harry...Terse and economical for the most part, this is a sure-handed farcical excursion into seediness and desperation. Yet for all the technical flair it remains an exercise in plot mechanics at the expense of anything approaching interesting characterisation, let alone people you care about.
The first 40 minutes delivers a usual noir setup, and is not interesting or unique, but it's a misdirection. While Blood Simple doesn't ignite in creativity and suspense until the halfway point, it then delivers Hitchcock-like twists and tension-filled set pieces. Really, its only problem is this first half, that other than being ordinary, also doesn't give its characters depth outside of monomania.
The Coen brothers debut feature only seems to get better with age. It's pulpy premise and near film-noir pretensions work in its favour keeping the viewer enthralled and in suspense. Performances from the four leads are dynamite especially McDormand and Walsh. Great cinematography by Sonnenfeld and the first film score by Burwell is very memorable as well.
The opening monologue alludes to all of the themes you'll encounter throughout the film..."Something can always go wrong," and, in Texas, "You're on your own." I wish Frances McDormand was in every movie. This new 4k restoration is magnetic.
Very clever constructed, with some rather unexpected twists. The motion of the camera and the movements of the actors are carefully choreographed, the work with colours, light, shadows ans sound is amazing.
How to shoot a Film Noir in 1984 ? Ask the Coen brothers, they dit it. With class. They just added to the classic recipe an ounce of black humor, two drops of unrealism, a pinch of brogue and some variations about the word "Blood" which is not as simple as one could imagine. Shake a little, allow to simmer gently during 94 minutes and you'll get the near perfect spaghetti Film Noir. Highly recommended.