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 lamp is seen standing through the sniper's scope after being knocked over. 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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As far as directorial debuts go, few are as ambitious and inventive as the Coen brothers' first film, Blood Simple, as it mixes genres and moods in a way that anticipated Tarantino's similar experiments by a decade, while still retaining an apparent simplicity, both narratively and formally, that few people originally saw as the beginning of one of American cinema's most extraordinary careers.
Set in a stark Texas landscape, Blood Simple opens on a premise that seems to be borrowed from the likes of Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice: someone steals another man's wife. However, the two adulterous lovers (Jamie Getz and Frances McDormand) do not plan to assassinate the betrayed husband (Dan Hedaya). On the contrary, he hires a sleazy PI (M. Emmett Walsh) to spy on them to carry out some twisted plan of his own. That is, until the investigator goes rogue and the situation escalates in the most grotesque of ways.
This escalation is matched by the Coens' constant shifts between genres, achieved through lighting, music and camera movements. Noir, straightforward thriller, horror, black comedy: Blood Simple is each of these and all of them at once, but the transition is never forced or unnatural; in fact, these transitions occur because somehow the story itself demands that they happen. In a way, this is a film that is aware of its own fictitious nature and toys with it as much as possible - because it can. This has since become a trademark of the two brothers, and it is as fresh and original now as it was back in 1984.
The same can be said of the four main actors: Getz and McDormand (soon to be Mrs. Joel Coen) form a solid leading couple, thoroughly menaced by the sudden ferocity of Hedaya, then best known for playing Rhea Perlman's dim-witted ex-husband on Cheers (an image he gladly, and expertly, reverses here). And then there's Walsh, who takes his practically identical role in Blade Runner and increases the character's unlikability, turning in one of the most brutally charming villainous performances of the '80s (and of the Coen canon).
Joel and Ethan Coen had a very clear idea of what they wanted to achieve in the movie business from the get-go, and Blood Simple is one of the best examples of this: for 90 minutes, it takes you to a whole new world, one that most people are happy to revisit as often as they can.
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