A supreme gothic thriller made on a shoestring budget, but rich in wit, intrigue, style, moodiness and suspense. The plot is deliciously complex and rife with edgy misunderstandings.
A Texas bar owner, his bored wife, her bartender lover and a sleazy private detective all become entangled in a hair-raising web of murder and double-cross.
The initially sympathetic “other man” in the love triangle at the core of the plot is called upon to perform unspeakable acts of violence; the nasty boo-hiss husband suffers a demise so horrible it wins him our sympathy, and the femme fatale ends up the nearest thing to an action hero.
Moreover, the film’s voice-over narrator, a role normally reserved for the protagonist-hero, turns out to be the real villain of the piece – a self-styled private investigator who’ll do anything to support the pursuit of money and his own twisted view of the world.
M. Emmet Walsh plays the part to perfection, giving us a new archetype of the moral terrorist with a sick sense of humour masquerading as an appreciation of a perverse universe.
Throughout this small group of characters circling each other in the cold night of the desert, the Coen brothers – Joel (director) and Ethan (producer) – produced a benchmark film that would spawn other careers for the John Dahls of this world in their astonishing film-making debut.
M. Emmet Walsh