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Blood Simple (1984)
When Texan bar-owner Hedaya discovers that his wife (McDormand) is
messing round with one of the hired hands, he doesn't call a divorce
lawyer. Instead, he buys the services of the incredibly disgusting M.
Emmet Walsh, a private eye with a profitable sideline in murder and
double-crossing. However, rather than dispose of the adulterers, the
assassin chooses what seems like a simpler way to collect his fee, and
the story escalates into an insanely complicated series of ironies and
misunderstandings. Unusually for the murder / mystery / suspense genre,
the effect of Blood Simple depends on letting the audience
in on the truth that is concealed from the characters, so that we are
allowed to figure out precisely where they have gone wrong. The result
is an exceptionally satisfying thriller, fiendishly directed by first-timer
Joel Coen with a strong sense of the seedy Texan locale, and a clutch
of brilliant, sweaty performances. Few screen villains have been as
completely repulsive as the sleazeball Walsh plays here, and the final
confrontation is as gruesome as anything in the recent horror cinema.
Blood Simple is liable to be the cult film of the year,
so go and see it before someone tells you too much about the plot.
First Published In: City Limits no.174 (1 -7 February 1985) p.23
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