Before there was Fargo, The Big Lebowski, or No Country for Old Men, there was this movie. Blood Simple is the Coen brothers’ directorial debut and one hell of a neo-noir experience. And not just that, because this is also a small-town crime movie! What more to want? And since this is a Coen Brothers movie, you know who will be the lead, none other than Frances McDormand. The list doesn’t end there as we also have Dan Hedaya and Mr. M. Emmet Walsh. Both of them were in a lot of cool movies.
Let me just give you a few: Midnight Cowboy, Serpico, Blade Runner, Fletch, Critters, Raising Arizona, Commando, The Addams Family, and The Usual Suspects. Now, Blood Simple was also the first major film for cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld who would go on to direct hits Men in Black and Wild Wild West. You could see right away that the man is fucking talented. He leaned in into the whole noir visual style, with awesome results if I might add.
For me, the best thing about this movie is the atmosphere. That juicy, thick atmosphere full of possibilities, doubts, desires, regrets, and tension. Once you have generated that type of atmosphere anything can look cool and intriguing. This is why for some this movie might be a bit slower with rather static scenes. However, it’s exactly those scenes that I enjoyed the most. Dan Hedaya leaned all the way back in his chair looking at the ceiling fan in pitch black. Looking and thinking about his wife, his life, her lover, and what to do about the whole thing.
I reveled in that tension cranked up to the max and all those slightly uncomfortable scenes. They felt like a car crash in slow motion only without the visceral and graphic aspect. And mind you, these are all ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. This makes them very relatable and familiar, who knows maybe you’re even one of them. You might notice some similarities between this movie and The Man Who Wasn’t There, a later Coen flick. I guess, if you liked this one, you’re going to like that one too.
After Julian Marty finds out that his wife is cheating on him with his employee, he decides to kill her. Eventually unable to perform the task himself, he hires a private investigator, to do the dirty deed. But when you have a combination of murder and large sums of money, something is bound to go wrong for someone.
Almost thirty years after its initial release, Blood Simple still looks fucking great. This is the thing about movies where your characters and plot do all the heavy lifting. I urge you to get the remastered version that looks like it came out some ten years ago. It provides us with the opportunity to see all of those trademark Coen Brothers goodies. Finally, if you’re looking to continue in the same direction, I recommend you check out our Rabbit Reviews selection of Noir Movies. Enjoy.
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh, Samm-Art Williams
Fun Stuff: Holly Hunter had auditioned for the role of Abby, but turned it down because she was performing a play in New York at the same time. So she encouraged her roommate Frances McDormand to go and audition for the role.