A Simple Plan ★★★½

"Nobody would ever believe that you'd be capable of doing what you've done."

Finding a large sum of money is likely a fantasy of many, and this is a film that takes that idea and runs with it. When brothers Hank and Jacob along with friend Lou come upon a large bag of money in a crashed plane, it seems their dreams have come true. They decide to keep the money in hiding and ultimately cash in on a big payday once some time has passed. Unfortunately for them, fate has a different plan.

This is a film that snuck up on me in many ways. This was always going to be a character-driven affair, but in many ways it wasn't simply the characters that appealed to me here. Rather, it is what the characters represent and the way the situation changes them, for better or worse. Specifically, the three characters on that posters are the ones I want to focus on as I feel they all are very different, but are absolutely essential in containing the synergy to make this film work.

It makes sense to start with the character of Jacob, played brilliantly by Billy Bob Thornton. To me, he is the heart and soul of the film. While initially blinded by his greed for the money, it is Jacob who sees the actions taken by all for what they are. Jacob as a result is beat down time and time again throughout the run time, and ultimately is the tragic figure in the film.

In the middle, and perhaps somewhat of a middleman in the entire process, lies Hank. Hank's character is particularly interesting in that he tends to lack individuality. Every one of Hank's actions in this film is driven at the request of another character. In fact, Hank was originally against taking the money until Lou and Jacob talked him into it. In many ways, he is the bridge to connecting the two extremes at hand here.

In my opinion, the most important character of the film lies in Hank's wife Sarah. Denying that she would take the money in a hypothetical sense but thereafter being absolutely ruthless in pursuit of it, almost all of the actions taken in this film are driven at the bequest of Sarah. Sarah in many ways is nothing more than the personification of greed. Her reaction to Hank wanting to return the money was nothing short of crazed and maniacal in nature.

The quote above to start this review was in fact said by Sarah to Hank, and I feel is the most important line in the entire film. In many ways, Hank was not capable of doing what he did. It was Sarah driving the plan the entire time, and treating Hank very much like a puppet. Love character dynamics like what was on display here.

A simple plan with simple characters that ultimately leads to dynamics and situations that are anything but.

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