Blood Simple ★★★★

I originally downloaded this as part of "The Coen Brothers" week of the 2017 Film School Dropouts challenge, but didn't get around to watching it until last month. The feature-length debut of the filmmakers who would eventually become known for their wacky, off-kilter black comedies, the main thing one notices here is just how tamped down and unremarkable their first film is, a by-the-numbers small-town film noir that always takes itself very seriously, and that proceeds at the exact pace and following the exact beats you would expect from a movie like this. (Also impossible to ignore -- just how hot Frances McDormand was at the age of 26. Cheese and rice, man.) The first Coen Brothers film to actually make an impression on me was their next one after this, 1987's Raising Arizona, which came out my freshman year in college and completely blew me and my friends away; and there's a good reason that that film is much more remembered as their "first" one than this official debut of theirs, because Raising Arizona is when the filmmakers fully let go of the leash for the first time, cranking up the absurdity to 11 and delivering a movie-watching experience that's utterly unforgettable. Blood Simple is done well, but it's the very definition of "forgettable" (even six weeks later, I can barely remember any of the actual storyline); and that makes it suitable only to Coen completists and insatiable noir junkies. Everyone else can start with Raising Arizona and make your way forward from there.

Jason Pettus liked these reviews