Miller's Crossing

“The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, are children of movie technique. In their first two movies, Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, they executed stylistic leaps and somersaults like young circus tumblers.  Now, in Miller's Crossing, producer/writer Ethan and director/writer Joel have come of inevitable age. Their routine's become more than just twists and turns. They've made a production out of it, with an intricately organized sideshow of themes, exposition, characters and fast talking.

“The movie starts without warning and at expositional speed. Greasy crook John Polito and henchman J. E. Freeman have come to the lair of crime boss Albert Finney and his lieutenant Gabriel Byrne to make a request. Polito wants to bump off weaselly John Turturro, who's messing with Polito's boxing-fight scams. However, Turturro happens to be the brother of Marcia Gay Harden, who's fiercely protective of her sibling and with whom Finney happens to be in love. So Finney refuses the request. There's more: Byrne is having a secret affair with Harden, unbeknownst to his boss Finney. With me so far?

“Suffice it to say, Polito and Freeman aren't going to like this; the lovers' rivalry between Finney and Byrne will heat up; and Harden will be torn between them. We're talking machine-gunning, clandestine bedroom meetings, bloody executions and funny one liners.

“Whatever the plot details, they're grist for the brothers' stylistic mill, the Coen signature. Crossing should be watched not because it's their finest achievement (that's still to come), but because the brothers are keeping things refreshingly different and building a career, their minds still very much fixed on originality.”
- Washington Post, 1990


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