The Coens' first great piece of cinema (by MaxBorg89)
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 <more>
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.
There is something about a good crime movie that brings to light the worst and most perverse traits of Mankind, that really forces the characters to open themselves to the viewer and show them the complexity of the human mind and spirit the stuff of great drama! 'Blood Simple' was the Coens' outstanding debut; as far as I'm concerned, it remains their best movie after 'Barton Fink' their undisputed masterpiece! and I personally regard it higher than 'Fargo.' It is one of my favourite movies, second only to 'Chinatown,' I'm constantly <more>
watching it. Ironically, I originally disliked it the first time I saw it three years ago? because I found it very slow-paced which is only a fault in the viewer and never in the movie and boring; today I know I was wrong 'Blood Simple' is easily one of the most thrilling and fast-paced movies ever made with a plot that is as simple as it is gripping! This movie is built on the narrative device of 'dramatic irony,' which Alfred Hitchcock used a lot in his movies to create and maintain suspense: withholding vital information from the characters but allowing the viewer to always know what's going on, thus trapping the viewer on his powerlessness to change what he knows is about to happen to characters dear to him. For the whole 90 minutes of 'Blood Simple' only the viewer ever has the whole picture in his mind; the characters, they have small fragments of a disjointed, mystery puzzle that leaves clueless in their own personal worlds, unable to trust anyone. This lack of harmony results in all sorts of misunderstandings and situations that will eventually result in tragedy for the four main characters.On the surface, the movie is very simple: Julian Marty impeccably played by Dan Hedaya hires private investigator Loren Visser Emmet Waslh gives the finest performance in the movie as an unlikely and violent villain to find out with his wife, Abby the brilliant Frances McDormand in one of her earliest performances is sleeping with; and this happens to be Ray John Getz, whom I didn't know until this movie, but was fascinated with his performance after some interesting incidents, Marty pays Visser to kill the couple and this is when 'Blood Simple' becomes a distinctive Coen movie. I mean, the first 27 minutes are already brilliant and unique with a rare, raw energy to it. But the last 60 minutes are just outstandingly good! The dialogue is acid, witty, economical; the editing is tight, it's wonderful how one scene seamlessly transits into another; the cinematography, built on dimly-lit interior sets, shadowy spaces, neon lights and other artificial light, is beautiful and unsettling in the way it creates a dark atmosphere. And the sound, with crackling sounds everywhere, helps a lot too! In 90 minutes, the Coens also breathe life into four distinct characters: they're complex, bigger than life, built on just a few strokes of good lines that immediately define them. Marty is obsessive in the way he stalks his wife, domineering, and just disgusting in the way he looks at and treats women: one has the feeling he's this macho cowboy, with his boots, open shirt showing his hairy chest and oily hair, to whom women are just objects. Ray and Abby are a lovely couple, and although she remains this innocent, naïve character until the end, Ray is a tortured man on the inside, doing horrible things for love and slowly growing into paranoia and mistrust.But Visser, he's the cherry on the top. M. Emmet Walsh just plays this vicious human being to a T! He's completely remorseless, amoral, lacking whatever values a normal person would behave. He's greedy, untrustworthy, ruthless, cowardly too, and will do anything for money he outdoes Carl's and Gaer's inhumanity in 'Fargo;' in many ways, he was the Coens' warm-up for these two memorable hoods, but in many ways he was also a better creation. The way Visser is driven to accomplish his goal and the total callousness of his methods just make him one of the finest villains in modern cinema.For such a short movie, 'Blood Simple' is filled with memorable, even disturbing scenes. There's so much tension in the air when Ray is burying Marty alive in a desolate field, you could cut it with a knife! That's probably the scene that stuck most on my mind when I saw this movie. It gives Ray whole new layer of complexity, and it pays off with one of chilliest lines in a movie ever! However, nothing tops the last ten minutes of the movie, the climax per se, the claustrophobic confrontation between Abby and Visser: it's just fascinating in the way it's handled. For one thing, the Coens show a lot of creativity in a scene that basically takes place inside one single apartment where Abby is locked with Visser; the fact she never saw Visser before and the fact she thinks it's Marty all along make it even chillier! If we want to define this movie's premise, it could be something like 'mistrust leads to ruin,' since it is Abby and Ray's lack of mutual trust that ruins their relationship. 'Blood Simple' is a beautiful movie full of some of the best human horror I have ever seen ambiguous characters doing monstrous things, and yet they ring ever so true with real life. It's a bold movie that says a lot about the darkest side of human nature in the middle of a great conflict, and it makes for one of the most outstanding dramatic experiences I have ever gone through.
The film debut of brothers Joel and Ethan Coen was this low-budget film noir that makes for a chilling and dark thriller.Texan bar-owner hires a sleazy honky to murder his wife and her lover, but things are going to go very wrong.A terrificly strange, highly suspenseful, and oddly humorous film, it isn't hard to see how the Coen brothers went on to become one of the most unique filmmaker teams in Hollywood. The story of Blood Simple recalls all of the thriller genres, from old pulp fiction tales to drive-in horror films, and is given off-beat twists as well as truly dark humor that keep <more>
it oh so edgy through out. The story also possesses some memorable characters. The direction is slickly well done, adding lots of dark atmosphere to the film along with an increasing sense of dread.John Getz turns in a nicely subtle performance as the film's occasionally foolish hero. The great Frances McDormand is solid as our heroine. Dan Hedaya is perfectly sinister as McDormand's ill-fated husband. M. Emment Walsh is terrifically spooky as our unlikely assassin.All around Blood Simple is a fine thriller that never fails to be captivating.**** out of ****
This was the Coen Brothers first movie and I think it might rank second-best to more-famous "Fargo."This is suspenseful neo-noir modern-day film noir filled with fun direction by the Coens: low camera angles, closeups, concentration of sounds such as the whirring of an overhead fan, some dramatic pauses, strange characters and even stranger events taking place. The only thing missing I'd like to have is 5.1 surround sound.Warning: some bloody scenes in here are downright gross, but they sure produce some memorable scenes. Character-wise, Dan Hedeya proves to be the toughest <more>
man to kill I've ever seen in a movie! Frances McDormand is young and looks pretty, the best I've ever seen her look. John Getz's character is strange and sometimes to frustrating to watch and Emmet Walsh is outstanding at playing the sleazy private detective. Those four, along with Samm-Art Williams, comprise almost all the speaking parts in this film.This is an involving movie. Once started, you're hooked on this strange story. I wish the Coens would have made more movies like this.
Ugh. So much griping about what this movie isn't! "It's not a good thriller" "It's not suspenseful" "I like Fargo better" Bring your genre recognition and creative constraints to movies whose scripts never passed through a working brain. There are plenty to choose from.Thriller? mystery? love triangle..? Who cares? This is simply a good film. I don't care if I can tell you what genre it is. If you like passive viewing this isn't for you. When you kvetch about B.S., all it does is indicate you were a late-comer to the Coens and saw them in <more>
non-chronological order after seeing Fargo. I'm so sorry for you.Boring performances? Not in my opinion. I'm relieved delighted! that it's not an "actors" movie with people method-ing up the plot. And I certainly don't watch it to vicariously feel anyones emotions. Pricey & needy name actors would have ruined this movie. As in Ladykillers Who cares if they're subdued? It's not about the perfs, it's about the thought you as a viewer bring to it. This is a "post-Method" movie and it's extremely clever and deep.Plot too intricate? It's less complex than it appears, and much easier to understand than some piece of convoluted tripe like Mission Impossible. SPOILER: The double-cross begins in mid-conversation in M. Emmett Walsh's VW bug.For me, the pacing is perfect. Any ten minutes of this movie is more thoughtful than plenty of other movies with frantic activity trying to hide their facile nature Minority Report, O Brother, etc. etc. ad nauseum. And I do not enjoy any of the fussy, formulaic follow-ups the Coens made after this. The joy of this movie is watching characters 'complete the picture' incorrectly, and then take action in a way that will be painfully consistent with their assumptions. The movie paints the world as a chilly machine with parts set in motion by human idiocy, and implicates a God indifferent to all manner of human suffering. All of which should sound familiar to anyone who's read Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger.The spare conceits of this movie are perfectly scaled. It has a minimalist score with some very nice music cues; and three or four sweet camera tricks so quietly inserted that you might miss them, which make me smile.
This film is the Coen brothers' homage to the great noir thrillers of the golden age. Cheating spouses, feckless private dicks, mistaken identities, a bundle of dirty cash are rendered to their bare essence in the mess of rotting fish sitting on Marty's desk. The film is notable as much for the audacity of the Coen brothers in getting it made as it is for its success in turning the broad, open expanses of west texas into a claustrophobia unknown even to Saddam in his spider hole. It appears the Coens made five minutes of the film to show to investors, though they had absolutely no <more>
idea what the rest of the film would look like. They basically sold the mood of the film, and their efforts bore fruit. The film established the Coen brothers as a creative force and Frances McDormand as a rising art house star whose journey would eventually garner Oscar for the Coens' "Fargo." I rate it highly for visual appeal, intelligent story and good sheer suspense and terror.
Try to watch this without talking to the characters... (by bross3)
I think this film, probably more than any other, causes me to talk to the characters on the screen in an exasperated way--something akin to the way you want to yell at the characters in a slasher movie not to run outside to investigate sounds.The only difference is that this film is fantastic, whereas cheap slasher movies are not. Blood Simple is emotionally involving and the suspense is played to perfection. While the characters are completely clueless as to what has gone on around them, we know everything. What we don't know is what the characters are going to do next. As in every Coen <more>
film, things quickly get out of control. Some people have commented that the characters here acted unbelievably, but I'd have to say that when you think about their situations, the reactions are completely compatible with the way the characters are set up. The problem is that nobody knows what's going on except the viewers.Coen fans will notice many recurring themes from their other films especially Fargo and The Big Lebowski such as the use of headlights, passing motorists witnessing a crime, shower curtains and bathroom windows, detectives driving VW beetles, husbands hiring the wrong people to carry out a crime... I had a longer list in mind earlier while watching it but I've forgotten some. It's almost like these films all go together as a series of films depicting how similar situations would end up in different locations in America.
Blood Simple is pure Coens. There are the usual bag of cinematic tricks, the twisting storyline, the seamy characters, and the occasional droplet of dark humor. The story concerns a bar owner who thinks his wife is cheating on him. He hires a sleazy private investigator to find out, and when he learns the truth, he wants them dead. Trouble is, things get kind of complicated when a murder occurs. The film creates a palpable feeling of tension, where you don't know what to expect next. Half the fun of this film is trying to figure out what will happen. A true testament of the well <more>
sturctured nature of the film, is the fact that there are only four main characters, and they hold your attention till the very end. And in traditional film noir fanfare, all of these characters have some sort of sordid business to attend to. The Coens drew on their experiences on Blood Simple and made the similar, but very different, Fargo. Watch Blood Simple for a good old fashioned film noir that will keep you guessing.
The Coen Brothers first commercial film tells a noirish tale of murder, double-cross, and betrayal in small town America. A greasy small-town Texas saloon owner discovers his wife is having an affair with one of his bartenders. He hires the private detective that documented the affair to kill the couple. But the PI has different plans, and then everything starts going wrong, very wrong. The acting is great especially M. Emmett Walsh as the double-crossing PI. The direction and camera work presage the Coens subsequent work.This movie is a treat of a rental if you can find it. It's worth <more>