A bar-owner in Texas is certain that his wife is cheating on him and hires a private detective to spy on her. This is just the beginning of a complex plot which is full of misunderstandings and deceit. Ethan and Joel Cohen's first feature film. Written by
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Private Detective Visser:
The world is full o' complainers. An' the fact is, nothin' comes with a guarantee. Now I don't care if you're the pope of Rome, President of the United States or Man of the Year; somethin' can all go wrong. Now go on ahead, y'know, complain, tell your problems to your neighbor, ask for help, 'n watch him fly. Now, in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else... that's the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas, an' down here... ...
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You know in Greece they cut off the head of the messenger who brought bad news.
Blood Simple is directed, written and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh and Samm-Art Williams. Music is scored by Carter Burwell and cinematography by Barry Sonnenfeld.
Suspecting his wife of having an affair with one of his bartenders, Texas bar owner Julian Marty (Hedaya) hires sleazy Private Investigator Loren Visser (Walsh) to find the proof. When that proof comes, a deal is struck to have the unfaithful couple killed, but this is merely the start of a sequence of events that prove that when blood is shed unlawfully, things are never simple.
The Coen brothers announced themselves to the cinematic world in 1984 with this deadly neo-noir of some narrative substance, that's in turn resplendent with technical smarts. Taking their cue from the edgy film noirs of yesteryear, the Coen's wrap their own original bent for off kilter cinema around the vagaries of the human condition. The story always remains interesting throughout, continually keeping the viewer on their toes, managing to remain easy to understand, logical; and this in spite of some required convolution. Humid atmospherics are drip fed into the production, pulsing ceiling fans, seedy motel rooms, barely lighted highways and faces half bathed in shadow, Sonnenfeld's photography belying the low budget afforded production.
The characters themselves are soon submerged in a world of misunderstandings, double crosses and murder, this as Carter Burwell lays a score over it that blends a slow piano death rattle with low base throbbing, invoking images of some down on his luck gangster from the 30s lamenting on a bar stool in some back street Speakeasy. Cast are uniformly excellent, but Walsh just about steals it with sleaze, greed and cold blood running through Visser's veins. The brothers Coen show some of what would become their trademark body bag humour, while some scenes have a disgustingly cruel (gleeful) edge to them. Script is as tight as a duck's bottom, with dialogue often sardonic, and the final 15 minutes of film, practically dialogue free, is a masterpiece of tension building.
Quite a debut indeed. Essential neo-noir and not to be missed by those with a kink for such occasions. 9/10
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