Blood Simple: Director’s Cut

Thursday, 11 April 2013 17:56
Posted in Cult Movies on DVD
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Blood Simple - Director's Cut out on DVDPreviously released on DVD in 2001, the Coen Brothers’ “Blood Simple” is being re-released in a new director’s-cut-guise, with three minutes excised to enhance the movie’s pacing and by all accounts a much better print. It was their first film and yet it bears all the hallmarks of their later work, including pitch-black humour, quirky characters, strong violence and a twisting story.

Jealous and brooding bar owner Marty (Dan Hedaya – “Mullholland Drive”, “Commando”) hires a swaggering P.I. (M. Emmet Walsh – “Blade Runner”, “Fletch”) to kill his wife and her new man after she leaves him. Naïve Abby (Frances McDormand – “Fargo”, “Burn After Reading”) and boyfriend Ray (John Getz – “The Fly”, “Zodiac”) seem like easy targets, so the execution should be a formality. Of course, nothing in a Coen Brothers’ film is simple.

I have only seen the original cut of “Blood Simple” once before, and that was many years ago, making a judgement about whether this director’s cut is better or not a little tricky. What I can say is that the rhythm of the film is typical of the Coens, which is to say it starts very slowly and cranks up gently but with palpable, rising tension. I also guarantee that by the end of the movie you will be gripping the sofa, yelling at the screen in apprehension!

Perhaps (and understandably) a little less self-assured than their more recent work, the film never-the-less maintains an atmosphere similar to that seen in the TV series Justified, whereby apparently laid-back Americans chat and interact but at the same time an underlying subtext of threat and ill-will exists, putting the audience on edge even when the characters might or might not be oblivious to events unfolding around them.

Walsh easily steals the movie with his multi-layered portrayal of Visser, the seemingly jovial investigator with a black and greedy heart. The way he is able to flip between his easy-going and deadly-focused personas is chilling, and he manages to be simultaneously likeable and objectionable.

The soundtrack is uncomplicated but the main piano riff really gets under your skin and matches the drama well, and on the sound effects front there is a sense of time passing and events inexorably unfolding, with clocks ticking, sinks dripping and fans whirring metronomically. The outcome of the story seems both random and at the same time bound by fate.

Although the picture quality is very good in this new release, you do not get anything other than a trailer on the bonus front, not even an introduction by Joel Coen to explain the decision-making behind this new cut. It is a poor show considering the £16 retail price of the disc. Fortunately the movie is very strong and is definitely worth seeking out whether you are already a fan of the Coens or not.

“Blood Simple: Director’s Cut” (1984) is released on DVD on 15 April 2013, courtesy of Studiocanal. The main feature has a running time of 92 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £15.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 11 April 2013 18:00

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