'Blood Simple' [Blu ray]
(John Getz, Dan Hedaya, et al / Blu ray / NR / 2011 / MGM)
Overview: When Marty, the owner of a backwoods bar, hires a man to kill his cheating wife and her boyfriend, he opens a door into the criminal world that he'll never be able to shut. The sleazy hit man decides instead to shoot Marty, thereby collecting his unearned fee and eliminating the only person who could implicate him. Or so he thinks.
Blu ray Verdict: Without doubt one of the Coen's darkest films, `Blood Simple' is also one of their best. Slow, brooding and manipulative, `Blood Simple' unfolds like one of the most unsettling horror movies of our generation, and it does so with such distinguished fire we can't help but be stirred inside. This is one of those movies that are so mesmerizing that one doesn't initially notice the haunting aspects of the plot until it is too late and we are sucked deep inside.
The film follows Ray and Abby, two lovers who are hiding from Abby's vengeful husband Julian (who also happens to be Ray's boss). When Julian can't take his wife's cheating heart any longer he hires Private Investigator Loren Visser to kill them, but when Loren decides to try and pull one over on Julian everything goes downhill and spirals into an amalgam of tragedy.
The films darkness sheds light on the overwhelming consequences of betrayal, and while Julian doesn't appear to be the most respectable of men his wife's actions are really the root cause of the characters turmoil. `Blood Simple' is a wonderful example of the cold and obviously embellished results of a wandering heart and it exposes the evil that is lingering in us all, waiting for a chance of justifiably expose itself.
On the outset the film may appear to be nothing more than a well constructed horror thriller but it is a very smart character study and a truly mesmerizing answer to the cheating spouse. Even the ending is remarkable intelligent and on point with the films reasoning for it leaves the guilty party (ambiguous SPOILER here) alone to contemplate her actions.
The performances within this film are also stellar. I was most impressed with Dan Hedaya, an actor who always seems to find himself with a thankless supporting role. He is finally given a chance to exercise his acting muscle here as Julian and is utterly commanding and fear inspiring in each scene. Frances McDormand makes one amazing debut here, proving why she is so loved in the first place. The film is not very interested in her until the third act really, but she is so moving in that act. M. Emmet Walsh is incredibly creepy as Loren and John Getz is effectively apathetic (another smart play on the `other man' persona).
The final few frames of the film are some of the most intensely crafted scenes in the history of the genre and that whole `hand coming through the window' scene is remarkable to say the least. If you take nothing else away from this film, take away the fact that that last scene is one of the best scenes in the history of film.
`Blood Simple' is dark and gory and intense. It's also humorous (this is a Coen film) and intelligent. Underneath the films `horror' veneer is a film about as honest as they come in its dissection of the marital bonds and the aftereffects of their severing. [AE] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.