A Simple Plan is a neo noir by director Sam Raimi of Evil Dead and Spider-Man fame. This is based on a book and screen play by Scott B. Smith. The film was released in 1998 and was nominated for two Oscars. The three main characters are played by an all-star trio with Bill Paxton as our main protagonist, Bridget Fonda as his wife and Billy Bob Thornton as his socially awkward brother.
The film starts in an everyday small town in the Northern United States. It is New Years Eve and Hank, Played by Paxton, is leaving work early for a family matter. He goes home where we soon see his pregnant wife Sarah, played by Fonda. He changes and soon his brother Jacob played by Thornton, pulls up outside in his beat up truck. Hank is not happy as he sees Jacob has brought his obnoxious friend Lou played by Brent Briscoe. The threesome goes to a cemetery to put a poinsettia on a grave. As they are leaving, a fox with a chicken in its mouth runs out in front of Jacob’s truck causing him to hit a tree. Jacob, not happy, grabs his riffle and the three take off in pursuit of the fox. They soon come across a wrecked airplane. Upon investigation they find a dead pilot and a bag full of money, 4.4 million to be exact. As the group discuss what to do, they decide that Hank will take the money and the three will keep it secret until spring. They will wait to see after the wreckage is discovered if the money is mentioned. If it is not, Hank will distribute the money and all three will move away happy and wealthy. Will money ruin these people’s life? Of course it will, but how?
This is a very good noir plot with money being the root of all evil and what will the common man do to keep his ill-gotten gains. I really enjoyed how the 4 characters that know about the money change as the film goes along. All are good average people when the film starts and change to evil people in different varieties by the end. Hank does what he thinks is right through out the film, but his femme fatale of a wife controls him like a puppet. Paxton does an amazing job as our everyday hero. Fonda as our femme fatale starts out saying she would never take the money to over thinking every little detail to dastardly consequences. Thornton, who got this part do to his performance in Sling Blade, shows once again how great an actor he is. The way he must balance friendship and family and is eventually pulled apart by this choice alone makes this worth watching. Briscoe’s performance of Lou is underrated and though he starts out as the biggest jerk, he changes the lest because of the money. Chelcie Ross plays the small town naive Sheriff to perfection and Gary Cole is also very good as the F.B.I. Agent in town to investigate the possible plane crash.
This is a great film by any measure and if you have not seen it, go do it now! If you have not seen it in a while now would be a good time to revisit this one.