Review: Blood Simple – Director’s Cut / Cert: 18 / Director: Joel Coen / Screenplay: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen / Starring: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedya, M. Emmet Walsh / Release Date: April 15th
Believe it or not, there was a time when no-one had heard of Joel and Ethan Coen. But back in 1985 a tight and rather old fashioned film noir did the art house circuit and managed to get them instant cult status. Looking back it now, you might wonder what was so arty about Blood Simple (1984). Well, not that much by today’s standards; the Coen’s have had a big influence and it would seem a pretty straight piece of cinema if it was released today. But back then, its old school double-crossing plot, morally ambiguous characters and state of the art brutality (surprisingly shocking at the time) were a breath of fresh air in the otherwise fuggy auditorium of mid-'80s insipidity. The nearest thing we’d had in the preceding years was Blade Runner (1982) and nobody went to see that either.
Funny we should mention Blade Runner there in a particularly pleasing turn as, well, the same character he played in Blade Runner. Only this time he’s wearing a hat. There are also remarkable parallels with the climax of both films; it would seem the Coen boys weren’t quite as original as we might have thought. Of course they weren’t; they just paid attention when they watched all those old movies; kept all the forgotten things that worked so well in classics of the '40s and '50s and injected them with a bit of modern va-va-voom. Blimey, they made it look easy; why there weren’t more films like this in the dark days of the '80s?
Anyway, the plot: someone’s hired to kill someone and then it all gets a bit out of hand with tense and brutal consequences. We don’t need to tell you any more than that; just enjoy the ride. What’s more, you can enjoy the ride just as Coen and Coen intended as this is the Director’s Cut; and it really is a “cut” as it’s actually three minutes shorter than the theatrical release. Don’t ask us what they cut because we don’t remember; it was a long time ago. Just expect it to be even tighter than before; which is going some as it was pretty tight in the first place. The print is also a vast improvement on previous releases.
One for your collection if you’re a buff or just worth checking out if you’re curious about the Coen Brothers' early attempts at doing pretty much what they do now.