Tom Reagan (played by Gabriel Byrne) is the right-hand man, and chief adviser, to a mob boss, Leo (Albert Finney). Trouble is brewing between Leo and another mob boss, Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito), over the activities of a bookie, Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) and Leo and Tom are at odds on how to deal with it. Meanwhile, Tom is in a secret relationship with Leo's girlfriend, Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), who happens to be the sister of Bernie. In trying to resolve the issue, Tom is cast out from Leo's camp and ultimately finds himself stuck in the middle between several deadly, unforgiving parties.Written by
The city where the story takes place is never named directly in the film. However, there is a clue late in the film which points to the New York City area: Tom tells Verna to leave town and go to "the Palisades" until everything blows over. The Palisades is stretch of rocky cliffs of Bergen County in Northern New Jersey and Rockland County of New York State. See more »
The position of the police chief's arms while talking to Tom during the attack on Leo's club. See more »
[on finding someone sitting in the dark in his apartment]
Hello Tom. What's the rumpus? How'd you know it was me?
You're the only one I know who'd knock and then break in.
Your other friends wouldn't break in, huh?
My other friends want to kill me so they wouldn't've knocked.
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Miller's Crossing is a film containing characters of the gangster genre occupying a noir-style world. Visually, the film holds up with other Coen Brother films in terms of its style, which includes elaborate set designs, costumes, landscapes, etc. Visually, the film is magnificent and eye-catching.
Where the film falters lies in its dialogue. A staple of Coen Brothers' scripts, particularly their earlier films, involves characters who possess an uncharacteristically sharp tongue and wide vocabulary. Miller's Crossing is no different. Don't get me wrong, the dialogue is well-written, but at times too well-written. Characters speak so fluently in wise-cracking threats that their eloquence undermines their threats. The audience, rather than invest care in the characters, instead marvels at their wit and articulacy. But again, this isn't to say that the dialogue is bad. In fact, most will probably find the characters and dialogue appealing.
The plot does not become apparent until after the credits roll. For the beginning of the film, characters speak swiftly back and forth, referencing off-screen characters nobody in the audience has yet seen. This may lead to some confusion regarding what in tarnation is happening, which subsequently may lead to a lack of emotion or care invested into the story by the viewer(s). Ultimately, Miller's Crossing is one of those films you're going to have consider in retrospect in order to piece it together.
Albert Finney and Jon Polito offer tremendous performances as respective racketeer bosses. Gabriel Byre successfully plays Tom Reagan, a man caught in the middle of the warring mobsters. The wonderfully gifted John Turturro plays the two-timing Bernie Bernbaum. For this role, the Coens couldn't have scripted anyone better than Turturro, who in one instance can seem sputtering and weak 'til the next scene in which he confidently points a gun in someone's face.
Overall, Miller's Crossing is a good film that possesses many reasons to watch it; though ultimately you may find yourself having to watch it again.
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