Blood Simple. Review
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With critical successes like True Grit and No Country for Old Men and fun fan favorites like The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Joel and Ethan Coen have become two of Hollywood’s most respected and well-loved directors. But that really comes as no surprise—especially for anyone who’s seen the duo’s award-winning debut, 1984’s Blood Simple.

Frances McDormand stars as Abby, the unhappy young wife of wealthy Texas bar owner Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya). When a sleazy private detective (M. Emmet Walsh) comes to Marty with plenty of photographic proof that Abby is having an affair with bar employee Ray (John Getz), Marty is furious—and, eventually, he decides to pay the detective to kill them both.

What follows is a twisting, turning, and completely unforgettable thriller, following Marty, Abby, Ray, and the detective as their plans shift, change, and backfire, eventually spiraling out of control and turning into a dark mess of jealousy, suspicion, greed, and gunfire.

It may have been made on an extremely limited budget (one that the directors reportedly raised by going door-to-door), but Blood Simple. doesn’t need expensive effects or a cast full of big-budget stars to grab (and hold) viewers’ attention—because the brilliant script easily does that on its own. The story is grippingly suspenseful, with so many unexpected twists and dark surprises that you’ll never know what’s coming next. It will keep you constantly on your toes, wondering (along with the characters) whom you can trust and what you can believe.

From the first moments of the film—a quiet conversation in Ray’s car on a rainy night, while driving down a dark, almost deserted road—the tone is ominous and suspenseful, and the Coens maintain the same tension and drama until the closing credits roll. It’s the kind of movie that will have you holding your breath in anticipation, expecting the unexpected—and you won’t be disappointed.

Meanwhile, even in their first feature, the Coens’ signature style is evident. The young directors mix quirky characters (especially Walsh’s creepy, cackling detective) and the occasional touches of humor with shocking bursts of (sometimes gruesome) violence to create a crime thriller that’s undeniably Coen.

You don’t have to be a cheap, sleazy detective to deduce that these two twenty-something filmmakers were destined to go on to Oscar greatness. Though Blood Simple.’s low budget is sometimes apparent, the film’s haunting tone, skillful screenwriting, and captivating performances more than make up for its budgetary limitations. So if you’ve somehow missed this Coen Brothers classic, be sure to pick up a copy of the Blu-ray release.

Blu-ray Review:
The Blood Simple. Blu-ray release is Blu-ray Simple, featuring just two extras: a theatrical trailer and an audio commentary by the fictional Kenneth Loring of Forever Young Film Restoration. The scripted commentary was written by the Coens themselves in their signature quirky sense of humor and performed by British actor Jim Piddock, who gives the track a kind of wacky, Monty Python feel that makes it well worth at least a few extra minutes of your time.

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