Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh
When Julian Marty (Hedaya) hires a private detective (Walsh) to kill his wife (McDormand) and her lover (Getz), he gets more than he bargains for. When blood is spilled, things become far more complicated for everyone involved.
This early film from Joel (True Grit) and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis) is a unique crime thriller. They not only wrote the film together, but also collaborated to direct it. John Getz (The Fly), Frances McDormand (Mississippi Burning), Dan Hedaya (The Usual Suspects), and M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner) star in this one.
This story is a wonderful neo-noir crime thriller, written by the fantastic Coen brothers. The tension seems to appear alongside the opening credits and never really lets up. Like many of their other films, this one is a wild ride that seems to work among the darker corners of society. The story is unique in the execution, but the premise seems familiar. While this story does do a lot of new things, there is an element of predictability that comes with it. For an early work, this is a nicely written story from the Coens. Their unique sensibility shines throughout the film and seems to be an early look at what was to come from these talented men.
The acting in this movie is really pretty good. John Getz does a good job leading the way in this movie. Although it’s hard to say that he’s the star of the movie, he certainly carries the story early on. Thankfully, he had a nice cast around him that helped to bring this one to life. Frances McDormand made her film debut in this movie, and does a great job with a unique role. Dan Hedaya and M. Emmet Walsh are excellent in this one as well. Hedaya seems to be the perfect choice for his role as the jealous husband. Walsh is also a great choice for his part in the movie. Overall, this small group of actors did a great job with a dark and gritty story.
This movie was the first for Frances McDormand, who has since won an Oscar and had a nice career. She isn’t the only one to start off in this movie. Cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty) got his first major gig with this film. His work seems to latch onto the unique grit within the story, and it’s wonderful to see. Another newcomer in this film was composer Carter Burwell (In Bruges). Burwell made his debut as a composer in this film, and has since worked on a number of the Coen brother’s films. This score is another great piece of this incredible movie. Overall, the technical aspects of this movie come together nicely with the artistic choices made.
This is a great movie, and perhaps one of the more under-appreciated films from the Coen brothers. The story might be a bit predictable, but the execution makes this a wild ride. If you’re a fan of their other work, you need to see this one. I would also recommend this to fans of great thrillers. I give this one 4.4 out of 5 stars.