Blood Simple isn't simple at all
There's something about the Coen Brothers' films that makes them so good. They seem to exist in a world all their own. Out of all of the Coen Brothers' movies so far, Fargo is my favorite. Fargo, I have noticed, has all the elements of many of their previous films, including kidnapping, murder, the torture of an artist, and soullessness of a business corporation. The murder part comes from the Coens' first movie, Blood Simple.
Blood Simple, as I found out, is not even remotely a simple story. It's very complex with many plot twists. I had a little trouble following it, mainly because it was hard to hear the actors (which is the reason I docked the film 1/2 a star). But after the first few minutes I started to get into it. For some reason, while watching the film, I didn't even think about plot twists. I was engrossed by the actors who all were very powerful on screen, especially John Getz who plays Ray.
Ray is a complex character who is having an affair with a married woman. Her name is Abby (Frances McDormand) and she is married to Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya). Marty suspects that Abby is cheating on him, and so he hires a private detective (M. Emmet Walsh) to spy on her. The detective takes pictures of the two sleeping together and then takes them back to Marty. He questions why the detective took them, but asks him to do another favor for him. Marty wants him to kill the two. The detective asks for a lot of money and then goes to do the job.
The movie gets twisty around this point. The detective arrives at the house with the two sleeping together. Later, he goes back with pictures of the two bodies lying together with bullet holes and blood. He shows them to Marty, and then withdraws a gun and shoots him through the chest. The detective picks up the money and the pictures and walks out, leaving the gun and his cigarette lighter behind (the gun is actually Abby's). To tell more would ruin the rest of the movie. I gave this information because it's just one of the many twists to come.
What I liked most about this movie is the plot. It twisted around and around until it finally ended up in a conclusion. The twists aren't as much of a surprise for us as they are for the characters in which it's happening to. Frances McDormand plays the woman in distress (which was kind of hard to believe after watching her performance in Fargo), and the final scene involves her and the detective. The scene plays out very well, and there were moments when I didn't know what was going to happen. I even saw a few moments that Fargo stole from, changing it slightly, such as when Abby runs into the bathroom and opens the window to try and climb out of. As for the rest of the cast, they are all top-notch. John Getz, Dan Hedaya, and M. Emmet Walsh were all equally good. My personal favorite probably had to be M. Emmet Walsh because his character was tricky and sly. I have always loved that kind of character.
Blood Simple is rated R for violence, language, and sex. I must say that Blood Simple wasn't as good as many of the Coen Brothers' latest works, but for their first feature film, this is powerful entertainment. It showed Hollywood then that these two would be around for a long time, directing and writing movies that would shock and, at the same time, please us for the originality behind them. In my opinion, these two have produced some of the most original movies in Hollywood history.
***1/2 out of ****
Reviews by Boyd Petrie