Miller's Crossing Reviews
But no flash or pizzazz, except for the set pieces which are almost mesmerizing, and perfectly done.
Everything made sense in the end - it needed just one good twist, surprise, or even scare, but solid and complete for what is here.
3.5 fedoras out of 5
Tom Reagan (played by Gabriel Byrne) is the right-hand man, and chief adviser, to a mob boss, Leo (Albert Finney). Trouble is brewing between Leo and another mob boss, Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito), over the activities of a bookie, Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) and Leo and Tom are at odds on how to deal with it. Meanwhile, Tom is in a secret relationship with Leo's girlfriend, Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), who happens to be the sister of Bernie. In trying to resolve the issue, Tom is cast out from Leo's camp and ultimately finds himself stuck in the middle between several deadly, unforgiving parties.
Fantastic storytelling from Joel and Ethan Coen. Clever, complex plot. Good ramping up of the intrigue, tension and claustrophobia as the movie goes on. You can feel how Tom is being hemmed in from all sides and how no matter which way he turns somebody is going to be out to kill him.
Some good comedic moments too.
Wonderful camerawork and cinematography. The forest scenes are particularly beautiful and haunting. The score helps there too.
Great performances all round. Gabriel Byrne gets the icy coolness and wise cracking of Tom down perfectly, like he was Humphrey Bogart and this was a Sam Spade/Micky Spillane movie. The other standout performance is John Turturro as Bernie - his under-pressure hysterics are something to behold.
A wonderful modern film noir-type movie, and who better to do it than the Coen Brothers. Until this movie they had shown, with Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, that they could make good movies, but there was a spark of genius missing. With this, their third movie, they showed they could make GREAT movies, movies that were incredible works of art. And it didn't end here. After this they would scale even greater heights with movies that rank among some of the best the world has ever seen - The Big Lebowski, Fargo and No Country for Old Men.
But this slick and sharp movie does not have an narrative magnet to interest us and get us through the movie, i just watched it and i couldn't describe what the movie's actually about, things happened, people got killed, the end. Nothing much really happens where we as audience members care much about the storyline. A handful of characters are instantly, slowly or barely introduced throughout the movie, at least a dozen that have some role, but not a single one you care about nor do you understand completely what they are doing and why they are there. (With an exception to Bernie beautifully portrayed by John Turturro)
All in all Miller's Crossing is a well-made film, but the narrative is far from compelling to pull is through this movie experience and it never fully convinces in terms of either period or plot, but it sure has its moments, and when they land, they flourish