classic cars, Coen Brothers, Dan Hedaya, double cross, Frances McDormand, John Getz, M. Emmet Walsh, Samm-Art Williams, Texas, WTF
Blood Simple begins with a conversation between a man and a woman in a moving car. She is running away from her husband because she is tempted to kill him with the gun she just got as an anniversary present. He works for her husband and is helping her leave because he always liked her. Once she realizes he likes her, she decides they should stop at the motel they just passed and have sex.
Unfortunately, her husband is having them followed by a private detective who might be one of the most unlikable characters ever to grace the screen. This guy could have made Divine drop out of the “Filthiest Person Alive” contest. He doesn’t just get evidence of them cheating; he stays and watches them have sex for nine hours. And he has a strange sense of humor, to put it mildly. But because the jilted husband has been made stupid by his murderous anger, he keeps doing business with this disgusting man. He’s “blood simple,” get it? And although this business transaction becomes the undoing of everyone involved, it is not in the way the wronged man had hoped.
Coen Brothers movies are pretty hit or miss with me. I hated The Hudsucker Proxy and Barton Fink. I wish I liked O Brother Where Art Thou and Raising Arizona as much as everyone else does. The Big Lebowski is my favorite American film, hands down. I could watch that one every day. And Fargo? It was always a little bleak for me, but Blood Simple actually inspired me to rewatch it the same night I watched this, and I have to say that Fargo has aged very well. I stayed up too late to watch it all on Sunday and that’s why I didn’t get this review written until today. Basically, without Blood Simple, we wouldn’t have Fargo or The Big Lebowski, and I can appreciate this S-L-O-W and confusing film for that reason.
This is so slow, and everything so depends on what happened before, that it was easy for me to get confused. I’m sure this is exacerbated by the fact that I have trouble figuring out people’s motivations even under ordinary circumstances in my own life, but I don’t think I’m alone in my confusion when it comes to Blood Simple. And I didn’t even look away to check out IMDb other than to find out the name of the very handsome man playing the wife’s lover (character actor John Getz). It’s just a puzzler of a film.
There is very little of the witty dialogue we are used to from the Coen Bros, but I get the idea that what is said really matters, especially if you were going to watch this again to see what you had missed rather than to see what would happen. I think the way everything played out was very clever, in the sense that I could not figure out what anyone was going to do next. The problem is that I also could not understand at all WHY anyone did what they did. I had to take to IMDb again after the movie to find out why the detective in particular acted the way he did at the end, because that seemed to come completely out of the wild blue yonder. Luckily, I was not the only one confused, so there was a thread explaining why.
So, that is Blood Simple. It’s not simple at all. You’ve probably all already seen it, but if you haven’t, it’s a good chance to experience the Coen Brothers’ style in its early stages. They like to re-use elements, like the detective driving the Bug, and the passing motorist witnessing a crime. Things like that are fun to spot. Just don’t wander into the middle of the movie like a child wanting to know what’s going on, because this movie will definitely tell you to shut the fuck up, and may even try to shoot you.
I’m less bothered knowing this detective watched people have sex for nine hours than I am knowing the people had sex for nine hours. At that point, there’d surely be irreparable penile damage, would there not?
Wednesday's Child said:
He said something like they just rested and then went at it again, for nine hours. He may have been trying to upset the husband though, since he was sadistic and evil.
That bastard. Makes sense.