Friday, February 15, 2008
Miller's Crossing; crime, USA, 1990; D: Joel Coen, S: Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Jon Polito, J.E. Freeman, Mike Starr, Al Mancini, Richard Woods, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand
In one American city in the 30s two rival mafia gangs are clashing with each other: the Irish and the Italian. Tom, a cold blooded cynic, works for the Irish gang, but starts crossing on the other side when he falls in love with Verna and refuses to murder her brother Bernie in the forest. By that, he indirectly rebels against his boss Leo, but in the end still double-crosses and kills the Italian boss Caspar.
"Miller's Crossing" is one of the best crime films of all time and, as ungrateful as it sounds, the Coen brothers would have desreved an Oscar for it much more than for their thriller "Fargo". With these kind of brilliant films everything seems perfect because it is full of ideas, style and almost esoteric crime mood, whereas it is hard to believe how two men created such a strong film about gangsters that it even rivals "The Godfather's" quality at times. There are murders and fights, but the Coens are at times so childish and playful that the viewers are always able to recognize the fun of the story: unusual perspectives and camera angles (the long sequence where Leo hides under his bed and shoots at two assassins who came to eliminate him in his home), weird, but meticulous, delicious details (in the explosion of a store a corpse of a gangster lands on the street), irony (a random kid takes the wig of a murdered gangster and causes his superiors to wonder about such "scalping") and humor in dialoges always give it a comical tone. Quirky, measured and very tasteful. It is obvious the story is artificial, but it still seems very realistic and close to life. Even though the film grossed only 5 milion $ in the US, today it's considered a secret recommendation because it is a masterpiece.