Blood Simple ★★★

The Coen Brothers' low-fi neo-noir debut is an impressive start to their directing careers, but the last two times I've watched it -- about 15 years apart, after watching a few times during the 1980s -- I've found the final act thuddingly dull. As long as the wonderfully slimy Dan Hedaya and M. Emmet Walsh are central to the action, Blood Simple crackles with pleasurably deviant tension. When John Getz and Frances McDormand are charged with carrying the film, however, it's plodding and dour. McDormand would become a commanding actress later in her career, but there a few signs of that within the constrained mood and rather aimless conclusion of Blood Simple.