Quick-Thoughts: Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan (1998)

A little disappointed by how Sam Raimi’s entry into channeling his longtime pals’ (The Coen Brothers’) wavelength of moral crime thriller storytelling lacks about any of that arresting quirk and diverse nuance that the duo has, or maybe even just some prominent evolution in Raimi’s own style given the opportunity to work with a new genre. A Simple Plan genuinely appears as if it could’ve been directed by any studio stand-in with its restrained seriousness for objectivity, and a familiar gist where the conflict grows progressively worse and worse despite nobody trying to put a stop to it, making its point simply through the spiral of the commoner’s relentlessness for the American dream, but you know, you can’t knock a fella for trying something new in regards to what’s typically up his alleyway, especially when the attempt is still pretty decent overall thanks to its compelling character-writing. 

Nonetheless, you have to admit, especially since this arrived two years after Fargo (1996), it’s hard to help yourself from thinking of its famous “there’s more to life than a little money, ya know?” quote next to every added situation Scott B. Smith piles. Yet, this kind of fable formula reconstruction from a sense of comparable realism that can constantly remind you it’s feeding a message like, in this case, something against perseverance for a better life while in the outskirts of defying law and interpersonal morality will still probably strike a core with most audiences as did Fargo.

Paxton and Thornton’s characters and relationship are just excellently communicated and unrolled. The whole dichotomy of the intellectual and stable brother who, because of so, can effortlessly lean into his sociopathic and egotistical tendencies when needed, to the less bright and successful brother that, because of so, can effortlessly lean into his empathetic tendencies for others through guilt and reflection, ultimately carries this movie. The whole thing is a smidge too Of Mice and Men (1937) inspired for anyone to not be regularly collating it to that, but for what it’s worth, it does a good job repositioning the classic tale into a modern-day lower / middle class small town community which we can, under those circumstances, relate to at a slightly deeper level. There’s quite a vile manipulation cycle happening as well, mainly between both Hank and Sarah (mutually) + Hank and Jacob (disproportionately) that intensifies your outlook on them. You really are stepping into dangerous waters learning to be like somebody that mostly everybody else doesn’t have the opportunity to be, no matter what that “innocently” starts out as. 

Verdict: B-

Sam Raimi Ranked

“A Simple Plan” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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