Blood Simple Review

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A Texas barkeep hires a PI to murder his wife.


The year was 1983 and two movie geeks decided to reinterpret film noir. They were the Coen brothers: cocky as hell and the talent to show for it. And the film, a deliciously deviant take on the staples of noir with deadpan dialogue, sweaty Texan locals and bodybag humour, was to gain immediate cult status and set the precedent for director Joel and producer Ethan (they both write) to take familiar genres and do just what the hell they pleased with them.

With its familiar devices of marital infidelity and spouse-killing, Blood Simple's antecedents are declared loud and clear - The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Body Heat - but in actuality, this adds many more spins to the oft spun tale of homicidal lovers. Getz and McDormand are discovered by vengeful hubbie Hedaya, before corpulent gumshoe M. Emmet Walsh plays both ends against the middle, engendering a melee of misunderstanding, blood spillage and corpse disposal.

The style is a treacle-thick mix of humidity, throbbing ceiling fans and roadscapes lost in the dark night, with all the Coens' canniness, both with script and camera, on show. It entices you to revel in its details, from Walsh's sleazoid tour de force to the magnificently cruel set-pieces - including a bravura 15 minute live inhumation sequence executed without a single line of dialogue - to the exotic cross-cutting and horror movie references.

As black, sinful and nasty as a weekful of Hitchcocks, this is as fresh and intoxicating now as it was back then. In a word: deadly.