A Simple Plan

A Simple Plan


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If dirty money infects those who touch it, a lot of dirty money is going to be a dangerous thing. It's the oldest story in the underworld. Except this is the overworld. None of these people are criminals. They live in a small Midwestern town.

One day at the end of the year when snow is deep in the woods three men go after a fox and find $4.5million in a crashed plane. What would you do? Call the cops? Taking is stealing. What if it's drugs money? What if it's stolen in the first place? What if it belongs to the dead guy in the wreck? He's not going to notice. Hank (Bill Paxton) works at the grain mill and is a respected member of the community. His brother, Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton), lives alone with a dog. Although not mentally defective, he is emotionally and sartorially underdeveloped. Lou (Brent Briscoe) is Jacob's friend. He's unemployed, married, a loudmouth drunk and a joker. Jacob warms to the jokes. Hank doesn't warm to any of him.

Copy picture

And then there's Sarah (Bridget Fonda), Hank's wife, who is nine months pregnant. She thinks Jacob is as trustworthy as a hole in a bucket and as for Lou, don't ask. She has homemaker written all over her. She likes to be in control of her kitchen and, as it turns out, her husband. Of all of them, she's the toughest.

The weakness of this well-written film (script by Scott B Smith, from his best-selling novel) is its predictability. Tension leaks over the floor, like blood, until the denouement, which throws everything into the air. You can take the consequencies of greed so far, but not to pieces. Sam (The Evil Dead) Raimi directs from a position of responsibility. With the exception of tame crows, he stays out of the macabre. This is an actor's piece, with visual references to Affliction - weather, trees, guns - and the faintest hint of Fargo.

Paxton is not a man of expression. He is solid and workmanlike and reliable. Thornton gives a performance of extraordinary intelligence. Jacob could have been the village idiot. In Billy Bob's skin, he has the sensitivity of an abused child. Briscoe is built for trucks. He's large, he's rough, he's very good indeed. Fonda is Hollywood. She cannot undress that smile, or bring country into her Valley soul.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
Share this with others on...
A Simple Plan packshot
Things get complicated after two brothers and a pal find a stash of cash and decide to keep it.
Amazon link

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: Scott Smith

Starring: Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton, Brent Briscoe, Jack Walsh, Chelcie Ross, Becky Ann Baker, Gary Cole, Bob Davis, Peter Syvertsen, Tom Carey

Year: 1998

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database:

If you like this, try:

No Country For Old Men