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"Blood Simple" - {Blu-ray}
Daniel Ruwe
Studio: MGM
Release Date:
August 30, 2011
Special Features:

See Below


A lot of directors don’t make a movie as good as Blood Simple their whole lives. The Coen brothers made Blood Simple the first time they ever made a movie. The brothers have been responsible for some of the best movies of the past twenty-five years, and Blood Simple ranks with the best of them. ***

The plot revolves around a rich, jealous bar owner, Julian Marty (Dan Heyada) angry that his wife Abby (Frances McDormand) is playing around with his bartender Ray (John Getz). He hires a private detective (M. Emmett Walsh) to follow the pair, and faced with evidence of his wife’s infidelity hires the detective to murder them. ***

The detective takes the ten thousand dollars and then murders Marty instead, tying up the only loose end connecting him to the money. Then, as happens so often in Coen brothers movies, things start to go horribly wrong. Marty isn’t dead, so Ray gets a surprise when he tries to cover up the murder, which he assumes was done by Abby because he found her gun at the scene, which was planted by the detective, who forgot his signature cigarette lighter, and…***

Actually, that’s enough of the plot; maybe too much. Half the fun of the movie is diving into the movie’s labyrinthine plot, which, though complicated, is never overly confusing and never spins out of control. The movie is a trim ninety minutes, but the complex plot never feels crammed into the time frame. ***

M. Emmett Walsh is wonderful as the amoral, avuncular detective Loran Visser, a fat, disheveled man with a penchant for colorful suits who is much cleverer—and scarier—than he looks. One of the fun things about Blood Simple is looking for prototypes for other Coen Brothers characters; Visser is a first draft of John Goodman’s similar character from Barton Fink. Dan Heyada is angry and neurotic as the cuckcolded husband, and Ray Getz’s Ray is cool and handsome—but not really very nice. ***

Joel Coen’s direction is amazingly mature, and effective. The tension builds effortlessly, to the point the audience almost doesn’t notice how much the tension has been ratcheted up until it reaches its breaking point. The movie is shot using a dark, noirish palette of colors. There are lots of wonderful scenes—the opening scene where Ray and Abby discuss their situation in a car on a rainy night, illuminated only be the lights of passing cars, a scene where a character gets trapped between two apartments in what must be the worst possible way, or the shot revealing a giant, plowed field, Ray’s car, and a freshly dug grave. ***

The plots spirals around, dragging the characters downward. The characters’ tragic flaws determine their fates, everything that happens to them feeling inevitable. The plot revolves around a lot of misunderstandings, like a very dark screwball comedy. If someone just stopped and explained everything everyone might live, but no one can, so no one does, and the characters all must face their fates. ***

Blood Simple is a movie on the more violent end of the spectrum, with what seems to be gallons of blood spilled, but unlike some other similarly bloody movies (Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, for example), the violence never feels forced or gratuitous. In this movie, it is merely the natural order of things. The Coen Brothers, of course, went on the make lots of other movies, and if Blood Simple isn’t quite as good as Fargo or No Country For Old Men, it’s pretty close. Which is about as high of praise as a movie can ask for. ----

Image and Sound:

The Blu-Ray version looks pretty good—the colors are distinct, and the dark colors look good. The DTS Surround Sound is pretty good too, allowing the audience the full benefit of the excellent sound editing.

Special Features:


Final Words:

Blood Simple is a taut, dramatic thriller, and a must see for anyone who enjoys suspense.


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