Monday, October 6, 2014

Movie of the Week – A Simple Plan

This week’s movie: A Simple Plan (1998)

One day, three blue collar friends from a small Midwestern town make a potentially thrilling discovery: they find a crashed plane with a bag full of money ($4.4 million dollars). They plan to keep the money, hiding their discovery from the authorities; however, all the money begins to breed mistrust between the friends leading them down a dangerous path.

A Simple Plan is a forgotten gem from director Sam Raimi, who is much better known for his Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogies. He worked with composer Danny Elfman (whose score is great – he is also a frequent collaborator with Raimi), cinematographer Alar Kivilo, and production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein (who also did The Quick and the Dead with Raimi).

The film stars Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton, and Brent Briscoe, and features support from Chelcie Ross, Becky Ann Baker, and Gary Cole.

A Simple Plan is a great little crime drama that seems to be mostly forgotten today. It makes a very good companion piece to Fargo, made by Raimi’s very good friends the Coen Brothers. The film works very well because it gets at the darkness within man; the corruption that is possible when there is money on the line. The film is very dark, as the characters find themselves quickly going down a path that there is no coming back from. It is also one of Raimi’s more subdued films stylistically. It is beautifully shot and styled, but it does not feature many of his more overt stylistic devices and camera moves. Raimi seems to understand that the film would be somewhat diminished if its shooting style was packed full of flair. Of Raimi’s work, it is also his most Hitckcockian in style and feel. Alfred Hitchcock is one of Raimi’s cinema heroes and A Simple Plan feels like a tribute to his work (average people who do horrendous things). It is a must-see for fans of Raimi and good crime dramas. Again, this is one of the gems of the 1990s that somehow fell between the cracks.

Trailer: Here
Available on: DVD and Video On-Demand

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