Ethan, the younger of the desperately talented Coen brothers, turns 50 today. This film, the brothers’ ninth together and a wily tribute to the hard-boiled fiction of James M Cain, is a reminder why this should be celebrated.
California, 1949: an emotionally stunted barber blackmails his wife’s lover in an attempt to liven up his life. However, his seemingly simple plan starts to unravel, leaving him adrift in a sea of suspicion, violence, murder, Beethoven, dry cleaning, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and UFOs.
Shot in colour but transferred into striking black and white, and grounded with a towering central performance from Billy Bob Thornton, this is Blood Simple with a mischievous glint in its eye.