Blood Simple (1984), Cert 18.

Director - Joel Coen.

Writers - Joel and Ethan Coen.

Starring - Frances McDormand, John Getz, Dan Hedaya and M Emmet Walsh.

Premise - The owner of a Texas Bar (Dan Hedeya) has a private detective (M. Emmet Walsh) follow his wife (Frances McDormand) as he suspects her of cheating on him. When his suspicions are confirmed he pays the detective to take some drastic measures.

Made in 1983, Blood Simple is Joel and Ethan Coen's first movie (shot for a paltry $1.5 million), they would go on to make some of modern cinema's most groundbreaking movies. Films like 'The Man Who Wasn't There', 'The Big Lebowski', 'Fargo', 'Barton Fink', 'Miller's Crossing' and 'Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?' are examples of the Coen's quirky and original approach to film making. I've never known a Coen film I didn't like so I approached Blood Simple with high expectations. Luckily, they were met.

Blood Simple takes all the usual film noir staples, infidelity, dangerous females, murder etc and gives them a twist like only the Coen's can. For a start the film is set in the Deep South, Texas to be exact. Everybody sweats, all the time. It seems although it's constantly night, I'm sure there were some daytime scenes, but they don't come to me as easy as the night scenes. As the film goes on, the tried and tested noir themes are twisted beyond recognition thanks to coincidence and incompetence. Typical Coen territory then.

As would become the norm for a Coen movie the film is littered with stand out performances. Perhaps best is M. Emmet Walsh as the private detective. Everybody sweats in the film, but Walsh seems to be swimming in the stuff. He is a slimy piece of scum that would do one over on his mother for a fast buck. Not to be trusted and certainly not one to turn your back on. Walsh seems like he was poured into that ill fitting suit and for me this could be the performance of his career. Dan 'Hairiest man in showbiz' Hedeya plays the sleazeball bar owner. I rate Hedaya highly, for me he is one of the finest support players in Hollywood today and he is spot on here. Sleazy, creepy a total lowlife.

Coen movie mainstay Frances McDormand plays the lead female part, the femme fatale if you will. She gives the role a kind of ambiguous innocence. We know she’s doing the dirty on her husband, but she is one of the few sympathetic characters in the film. John Getz plays the man she leaves her husband for and his is a solid performance if nothing stunning. I appreciated the long scene where he has to dispose of a body. Little to no dialogue, he has to act totally physically and convinces. That scenes is 100% Coen, as dark as black comedy gets.

The film is a little slow to get going, but the film doesn't disappoint once it shifts up a gear. The final moments are excellent with lashings of dark comedy and some ludicrous set pieces. Simply an inspired stand off between Walsh and McDormand rounds of a wonderful film. That said the film is starting to show its age. The cheapness of the film is showing through and the DVD that I watched had terrible picture quality. Hopefully one day the Coens can restore the film to its original state.

I digress; these are more observations than complaints as Blood Simple is a stunning debut from a pair of film makers that would go on to make some of my favorite movies. Oh, you might want to keep an eye on that Barry Sonnenfeld fellow that did the cinematography, I think he might go far as well.....


8/10 for Blood Simple.

Poster Quote - Simply bloody brilliant.