Texas bar owner Julian Marty, who is generally regarded as not a nice person, hires shady private detective Loren Visser, who is able to obtain what Marty requests: evidence - in this instance, photographic - that his wife, Abby, and one of his bartenders, Ray, are having an affair. As Ray and Abby realize that Marty has found out about them, it allows them to plan for their future away from Marty, while be up front with Marty about the situation. Marty, in turn, decides to hire Visser once again, this time to kill Abby and Ray, and dispose of their bodies so that they won't be found. The out in the open affair and the contract hit lead to some actions based on self interest, and a standoff of sorts between the four players, which is compounded in complexity by some wrong assumptions of what has happened, with an innocent bystander, another of the Marty's bartenders, Meurice, potentially and unwittingly adding to the scenario. Written by
The title is based on a phrase from the Dashiell Hammett novel 'Red Harvest', in which "blood simple" is a term coined to describe the addled, fearful mindset people are in after a prolonged immersion in violent situations. Blood Simple writers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen later made Miller's Crossing (1990) which is loosely based on that novel. See more »
Phone continues to ring after Abby picks it up. See more »
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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A great early Cohen film where the claustrophobic heat and tension seep from the screen
Abby is cheating on husband Marty with his employee Ray. Unbeknownst to them, Marty has had the pair followed and caught in the act by an odious private detective. With Marty rejected he turns to the detective with an offer of money to kill the cheating lovers and dispose of the bodies. The detective accepts and, with Marty out of town to ensure an alibi, the plan seems so clear and simple to execute. However, where blood is involved, nothing ever runs smoothly or simple.
Watching No Country for Old Men recently put me in mind of Blood Simple and gave me an excuse to watch it again for the first time in about a decade. I was glad that I did because, although it is very slimmed down, all the themes and standards that continue with the Cohen brothers down the years. The film is a modern noir-ish crime thriller with a contained set of circumstances bringing death and ruin to all involved. The story is engaging but it does have holes within it but they are not serious enough to affect the flow. What carries it through everything though is the visual style and feel given to the film by the Cohen's. From the opening sequence in the car to the ever present roar of the incinerator to the sweating, cackling presence of the detective, the sparse dialogue just doesn't matter because of the delivery. As with No Country, you can feel the oppressive heat and tension in each scene and it makes for a satisfying film.
The cast play to this heat and tension with contained but tense performances. The standout is Walsh, whose sweaty moral void is the heart of the film. Hedaya is almost as good in a smaller role. The two "lead" characters suffer a little from being less interesting but nevertheless both Getz and McDormand are good. Blood Simple is a tight and short film with limited dialogue and little in the way of quick action. However what it does have is a wonderful sense of Texas and crime. The slow pace adds to the claustrophobic feel of heat, which in turns adds to the tension and the constant presence of death in the air. Amazing to think the Cohen brothers started getting it so right so early in their careers.
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