Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This film is a triumph of style AND substance. The photography is striking, the performance are universally excellent, and the story keeps our interest until the very last scene.
Visually, the film reminded me of Citizen Kane. The era is similar, there are many low angle shots, and the use of light and shadow creates great drama in scenes that are already dramatic.
But the characters and the acting are what held my interest. The barber, the wife, the lawyer, the department store manager, the teenage pianist, the salesman — all make an impression as the story slowly spirals to its climax.
As this is a Coen Brothers film, we expect twists and turns. We get them. But the route is evolutionary and at times leisurely. The images and emotions have time to sink in.
And, gosh, it’s great to see a beautifully shot black and white film again. The glorious play of light and shadow is nowhere more evident than in the barber shop where we see the light streaming in from the street. The set decoration is so realistic you almost feel like stepping up and asking Billy Bob Thornton for a haircut.
As with other movies of this era (I know, it was released in 2001) cigarette smoking is common. It’s like an old John Wayne film; you’re constantly aware that, if a murder or accident don’t get you, lung cancer will.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D,. McDonald