Blood Simple is about the domineering small-time bar owner down in the heart of ol' Texas, Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya), who suspects his wife Abby (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with one of his bartenders, Ray (John Getz). Julian hires Private Detective Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) to confirm his suspicions and it turns out to be much easier than he thought. When Visser presents Julian with all the irrefutable evidence of her adulterous ways. Not one to be betrayed so easily, Julian hires Visser to kill Abby and Ray while he'll be away on vacation, which Visser does and then provides Julian with proof that the deed has been done. It's here where you begin to see this almost comically train wreck unfold of mistaken conclusions, wrongful assumptions and egregious mistakes that lead all our flawed characters down the most unnecessary of paths. Blood Simple is one truly fine dark comedy of errors.
The real beauty with Blood Simple, as with most Coen Brothers movies is in the interesting characters, the decisions they make and the execution of the story, they make it look so easy. The incomparable ease of which the Coen Brothers excel at in storytelling makes the journey all that more memorable, suspenseful and personal. The Coen Brothers have always had this knack of creating bizarre and unique characters and crafting these small and intimate movies that revolve around their ineptitude and are compelling in ways most modern blockbusters fail to do so. I see a critic on the movie poster compare the Coen Brothers to Hitchcock and for Blood Simple, and I could see that as being fair praise.
I have always been a big fan of the Coen Brothers, not of all their movies, but their track record is better than most other directors with me. So I was surprised to learn though that Raising Arizona was not their first directorial debut, as I had initially thought it was, but it was actually Blood Simple. Needless to say that I had to put this one on right away! Having watched Blood Simple as the last movie in their filmography, I immediately noticed certain recurring themes and styles used in Blood Simple that the Coen Brothers habitually use in their later movies, lots of close-ups where you can practically smell the beads of sweat dripping off their slimy faces, a lot of headlights passing by, a lot of meetings and conversations in cars, the way certain shots are framed, the heavy emphasis on diegetic sounds, and so on. Their recurring style and motifs is why they're considered auteurs.
This little Texan noir is a thrilling and riveting tale of love, and consequently murder that goes awry in Texas, admittedly it did take a while to get me hooked, but once it got me, it got me good. Blood Simple nonchalantly simmers away, slowly escalating until the paranoia is ratcheted up to explosive and everything boils over incorporating all the elements that were set-up earlier superlatively. Blood Simple was definitely a Coen brothers movie 101, but it's one hell of a directorial debut. I've seen a lot of famous directors first foray into directing and most of them were pretty rough around the edges, as you'd expect, directing is a skill that's refined over many movies, but Blood Simple was a remarkably well executed thriller that I'd have no trouble believing an experienced director made. One thing's for sure, nothing is ever simple when it comes to murder, and the Coen Brothers.
Written by - The Sentry - 09/01/2015