Written by both Joel and Ethan Coen and directed by Joel Coen, “Blood Simple” is a thriller that reflects much of their future catalog of films in a multitude of ways. Mainly that there might be a simple tumbling of events based around those universal and age old instigators; love, jealousy, and revenge. The film opens with narration condoning complainers and letting the audience know that something can always go wrong because in Texas, we’re told, you’re on your own. This brilliantly lays out the mentality that ultimately causes everything to go awry.
It’s a simple story at its core, but it’s what the Coens do with that structure and how they shoot the preceding events that make this film worth it’s while. Abby (Frances McDormand) decides to leave her jealous and brooding husband Marty (Dan Hedaya) in the night. Ray (John Getz) works for Marty at his bar and offers to drive Abby to Houston, but a mutual attraction only gets them to a motel before doubling back after a night of passionate indiscretion. While there Marty’s hired private eye Visser (M. Emmett Walsh) snaps proof of the infidelity and wheels back to Marty to hand over the proof for an envelope of money.
A few double crosses later and we have scenes that play out where two characters believe each other has killed another all while we the audience know that neither version is true. The Coens play each scene for all it’s worth by ratcheting up the tension with their shot sequences, pacing, and soundtrack choices. The title of the film is derived from a 1929 Dashiell Hammett novel (Red Harvest) which the term “Blood Simple” is described as the addled, fearful mindset of people after a prolonged immersion in violent situations. Which is something that every major character goes through, and some viewers may also feel unsettled due to the atmosphere alone. I really enjoyed this movie, it was fun getting to the root of two of the most critically acclaimed directing duos to ever hit Hollywood and it’ll help give me context to their future releases, every good story needs an origin after all. I suggest giving it a shot!
Final Score: One love triangle and a knife in the hand