A Simple Plan

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

"Hank? Do you ever feel Evil?"

1998's A Simple Plan is a movie about mediocrity in all it's many crushing forms. It's characters live in a dead-end town where they each occupy a distinct spot in the hierarchy of normalcy. A man with a job, a wife and a child on the way is a king in such a town, his unemployed brother and shit-kicker of a friend sit at the bottom rung - the town fuck-up and the local drunk.

When the three of them find a plane full of money crashed in the dense woods near town, they each see a path for themselves to escape the overarching normalcy of their lives. It is, of course, themselves they need to escape, as the agreement to keep the money for a while to make sure it isn't being looked for then distribute it equally between the three begins to fall apart.

It's greed and suspicion that drive these men - along with garden variety ignorance - and soon, the "Simple Plan" begins to unravel.

Billy-Bob Thornton really shines here as Jacob - the awkward older brother of Bill Paxton's Hank. As Hank gets ready to welcome his first child into the world, Jacob watches with a wistful jealousy. He's never married - never even kissed a girl - and he hopes that the money they found will allow him to purchase such things. In his sad desperation, he comes to the realization that such things can't be bought. Not really - not the way Hank has them.

Some men just aren't destined for happiness. Even those who seem outwardly to have it, like his brother with the job and the pretty wife, don't.

Instead of solving his problems, the money compounds them as Jacob finds himself pulled between loyalty to his brother Hank and his best friend Lou, the aforementioned town drunk and third man in the conspiracy.

It's a spider's web of a movie, and - like most webs - there is a black widow at the center of it. Bridgette Fonda plays Hank's wife, Sarah, who is the true mastermind of the "Simple Plan". She uses hank, knowing that he's simply the most intelligent and Charismatic of the three, to manipulate the situation in their favor. When murder becomes necessary, she is the only character who doesn't struggle with it morally. Her eyes are fixed on the money, which she too sees as a ladder out of her ordinary life. She never pulls a trigger, but all of the blood in this movie is squarely on her hands. It's a great character turn.

The ending is unsatisfying, as most endings are, but the tense journey to get there makes this one worth your time. If you like twists, expertly written dialogue and Danny Elfman scores, this one's for you. If you like happy, satisfying endings, it probably isn't.