Blood Simple ★★★★

The Coen Brothers have reimagined noir many times but their impeccable film debut, Blood Simple, shares the most in common with classic noir. While Fargo involves a kidnapping scheme and detectives who can outsmart it and The Big Lebowski is a stoner distanced riff on the genre (perhaps more in line with the early crime comedies of The Thin Man series, except with many more coitus jokes), Blood Simple is a deconstruction of the classic noir setup.

A man (Dan Hedaya) hires a gumshoe (M. Emmet Walsh) to find out if his wife (Frances McDormand) is cheating on him. When that’s confirmed, said gumshoe is supposed to kill her.

The manner in which the Coens update and break down the old genre is by making the private dick an actual dick. Or maybe better put, they essentially make him an old school Universal Studios monster. Walsh is beyond anti-hero, for he’s no hero. He’s a terminator who revels in chaos and dates underage women. His job is ugly and he makes it even more ugly. That’s why he does it, it seems. There is a siege upon McDormand that closes the film that feels like a horror film but is shot (by a pre-director Barry Sonenfeld) like a classic film noir. It’s all about smashing light bulbs and little pig, little pig let me in.

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