Miller's Crossing

Like Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, this works both as a crime thriller and as an ironic commentary on that genre. With fast, sharp, witty dialogue and Byzantine plotting, it charts the gang war between Leo (Finney) and Caspar (Polito) in an American city during Prohibition. Tom (Byrne), Leo's loyal right-hand man, is the lover of Leo's mistress (Harden), whose brother (Turturro) Caspar wants killed. Exactly how this and other complications are sorted out forms the hugely inventive, enjoyable narrative core of the film. But it is also a tribute to the crime literature (notably Hammett) and movies of the '30s, artfully poised between 'realism' and a subtle acknowledgment of its own artifice. And there's yet another level, since it is composed - visually, verbally and structurally - as a series of variations on the themes of 'Friendship, character, ethics'. At times the criss-crossing of abstract motifs recalls the formal complexity of a Greenaway film. It's arguably the US mainstream's first art movie since Days of Heaven; and quite wonderful.

Release details

Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Joel Coen
Screenwriter: Joel Cohen Ethan Cohen
Cast: Gabriel Byrne
Albert Finney
Marcia Gay Harden
John Turturro
Jon Polito
JE Freeman
Mike Starr
Al Mancini
Richard Woods
Steve Buscemi
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