Monday, April 11, 2011

"Blood Simple" (1984) - Movie Classics

Oh what a deadly noir thriller is “Blood Simple”? A threatening style of visual extravaganza in every shot Coen brothers and a stellar cinematography by Barry Sonnenfeld leaves you breathless and in shock after the drop of water hits you in the forehead leaving the credits rolling. Made in 1984 the blood is still warm and it is weird I am saying this but the violence in “Blood Simple” has a sensible taste. It does not glorify it but the realism in it somehow sheepishly charming and brings a visceral sense to the term “chill the bones”.

Set in Texas with an affair, a sleazy dangerous husband and a sleazier deadly investigator to make this a style that blossomed into several films of these two directors. This reviewer has been quite vocal in how the works of Coen brothers despite its technical finesse is full of emotional void and I think I am beginning to understand their sensibility in that form of presentation. They treat human beings with a clinical approach wherein conscience and emotions are nothing but sanitized instruments to cut through the skin. Here in their earliest work it is evident and it took this film to teach this reviewer on their purity in the style.

Frances McDormand is Abby, wife of bar owner Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya) and lover of Marty’s worker Ray (John Getz). Marty knows this and hires Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) to kill these two for a prize of ten thousand dollar. The set up to this place is calculatedly lethargic but looking back it carried the same pace as it did during the deadliest scenes of thrill, fear and scare in the film. The gravity in the scenes oscillate it to make it appear taking a slow route but the energy is equal. What immense care these two take in making a shot work. This is a work from two extremely picky and OCD creators making sure the objects in each scene is placed at a particular angle with a certain shade and camera to project it in a measured distance.

“Blood Simple” has four characters and they are all creatures in a jungle. Ray and Abby are supposed to the better of this beasts but in reality they are the root cause of this situation becoming something else. There are words seeded in minds that sprout but not blossom as obvious suspicion. It becomes a small nudge in a character acting or believing in the direction one would not expect.

Loren is the sleaziest of all and begins to play an ugly game. He crosses Marty and does it bastardy clever way. Ray assumes more than he should which leads to the first classical scene in this film. There are no dialogues for a solid fifteen minutes and the grave violence in those fifteen minutes does not involve chases or fights. It has such a heavy nature to the entirety and the cinematography draws a dark photograph in every step it takes along with the scene.

“Blood Simple” is pristine art and the creators of that art are crazily precise. Rarely there are films that immediately strike you that they have not wasted even a single shot in the film. Feelings like that come from multiple viewings of a beloved film. You will realize the miniscule things in each scene and you wonder that without this scene there is no film and that goes on for the entire movie. To get to the point takes patience, time and great appreciation for the work. This gets then and there right after the film ends.

It is a surprise to myself that I have come to absolutely adore this work of Coen brothers. There is beauty in the ugliest scenarios in this film and there is thrill around everywhere. Not the kind of thrill where a cheap trick of jumping in from out of the screen but a sincere and honest sense of thrill that pumps your heart without even feeling it.

I know that I have not explained not even a single bit about the characters or their conscience battle but that is the sole reason “Blood Simple” is terrific. It is a display of fear, betrayal, violence and miscommunication at its best. It has actors leaving everything to the director and the magic is real. I can go on and on about several landmark shots in the film but those will be spoilers for someone who have not enjoyed this feature and I would not want to steal away that from them. This is class film making and Coen brothers have finally won my heart with one of their very early films.

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