"Blood Simple.": A Brilliantly-Styled Crime Started Simple, but Grew Complicated

Blood Simple.

This post is written as part of the series "the films of... Joel Coen amd Ethan Coen".

What is interesting from “Blood Simple.”, the Coens’ debut film, is its originality. It was a classic, low-budgeted crime-thriller from which Joel and Ethan Coen started to get attention from Hollywood. You can even tell what an indie project “Blood Simple.” is just by counting down the film goofs (which are apparent to see), but no one will doubt the originality of both the film’s story and style.

The less you know about the plot, the better. And to be honest, wrapping the story of “Blood Simple.” into one or two sentences is a hard thing to do. All I can tell you is, we had Ray (John Getz) and Abby (Frances McDormand) having an affair. Abby is cheating from her spouse, Marty (Dan Hedaya), who is also Ray’s friend. Knowing that Abby is cheating from him, Marty hires a private detective (M. Emmet Walsh) to spy on Abby and Ray and, eventually, kill them.

Blood Simple.
Marty (Dan Hedaya) hires a private detective (M. Emmet Walsh) to spy on his girlfriend.

You see, the story of “Blood Simple.” started simple but grew complicated, but it doesn’t make the plot any less natural. It feels real; perhaps a bit staged but never becomes over-the-top, because every part of the story makes sense and never goes out of our imagination. I mean, every scene was made by logical decision, depicting what we’re really gonna do if we’re put into such situation. The plot becomes complex in a thrilling fashion, making you feels okay even if you are not really into the deeper layer of it—because sometimes viewers (like me) imagine why such a crime story could become so winding.

But (unfortunately), the Coens never wanted us to predict and be part of the thriller. We are just served with an exciting story of a crime without giving us a chance to think. We know everything about the story, and even the characters are the misfits. As the story turns complicated, characters have their own secret which make them feel confused about what was currently happening (and surely makes the atmosphere becomes more mysterious), but we already know the big picture of the story. We can only imagine how this story would end.

Blood Simple.
Abby (Frances McDormand) never wonders that her affair with Ray (John Getz) turns into a crime.

That what makes “Blood Simple.” exciting, but not as gripping. If you love to flow with the story, “Blood Simple.” will become your favorite, but I am not that kind of viewer who prefers someone to tell me a lullaby of such a bloody, thrilling crime story—I’d rather solve the mystery within. Still, even if you are on my side, the film’s style makes you stay for the entire 90-minutes-or-so. The Coens collaborated with cinematographer Barry Sonenfeld to create stylish but not overdone photographs of crime so beautifully.

And I think, this is also an achievement for such a film made in 1980s—regarding how swiftly some scenes transitioned into new ones. There might be some viewers who get bored by how perfectly set up the plot is, but the presentation of “Blood Simple.” never lose its charm. Characters are created like in most noir films (humane, but never really become grey), and acted well by the cast—especially John Getz and Frances McDormand. They show insecurities as ordinary peoples who have no experiences in practicing crime, and what they showed to us is, again, a logical manifestation of it.

Blood Simple.
Bullets shot through wall, making spotlight-like effect like above. What a beautiful image.

Many people address “Blood Simple.” as violent and gory, but—although it did contain many violences—I think it is still tolerable. The point is, “Blood Simple.” shows us that originality is one of the powers that makes a film an interesting one. Following a story is a pleasant experience when watching “Blood Simple.” and although it never really involves us to be the part of the story,  it still worth watching.

Blood Simple.

3.5 out of 5 stars

 ▲  Originally- and brilliantly-made style and story, complicated but enjoyable thriller
 ▼  Much of a storyteller than a brain-tickler

BLOOD SIMPLE. | COUNTRY USA YEAR 1984 RATING n.a. RUNTIME 99 min GENRE Crime, Thriller CAST John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh, Samm-Art Williams WRITER Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, DIRECTOR Ethan Coen (uncredited), Joel Coen MORE INFO 

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