Miller's crossing is a film that on first viewing is a masterpiece. It's performances' are top notch, it's script is crisp and fitting for the period, and the direction and cinematography ooze style. It's not until a second viewing that the film starts to fall apart a bit; don't get me wrong, I still like the film it's just not as good as it first appears to be.
The acting is probably the best part of the film. Gabriel Byrne plays play's the part of Tommy perfectly. He's able to exude confidence with every mannerism, but he also plays the part of the gangster with such vulnerability. It's truly a great performance. Equally as great is Albert Finney. His performance is almost pure macho, but at the same time he's clueless to what's going on around him and the consequences of his actions; something that's apparent in the final scene. John Turturro gives his best performance as a whinny little coward, Bernie. is portrait is sympathetic, but also scummy at the same time. It's easy to see why Tommy is so conflicted about this man, and you never know what going on inside his head.
Screenplay wise, the film never knows what it wants to be. This is less an insult to the film, but more of a compliment. The film truly transcends being part of one genre. It has elements of 30's gangster films, but also 40's Noire. Thanks to some stylish direction from the Coen's, the film works. It mixes both genres into one, and it flows perfectly.
Now, my one major complaint is the ending. It seems that after all the murder, double crossings, back stabbings, and romance, that by the end the film ends right where it started. It almost seems like a waste of time. But, the film makes up for this with it's sharp dialogue, stylish action, and impressive performances.
Miller's Crossing may be a case of style over substance, but with style like this, why complain? It may not be one of the Coen's best, but it still a damn good film.