A Simple Plan - rated - TEPID

Sam Raimi's film begins most elegantly, in the snow (representing, I'd like to think, a blank moral background). Then black crows appear, and a fox raids a henhouse. A classic Shakespearian signal that all's not well in the world. We meet the narrator, Hank Mitchell (played by Bill Paxton - or is it Bill Pullman? Who can tell the difference?) It's ideal casting to have Bill Paxton (Pullman?) as Mr Everyman, Mr Ordinary. Hank proceeds to tells us what an idyllic life he leads. It's a beautiful set-up that promises much. Unfortunately, it's pretty much all downhill from there.

The problem for me was that the characters never became real. Bill Paxton's character, Hank Mitchell, suddenly loses his marbles. He's an accountant - so I'd really need convincing about such a sudden change in character. Brigid Fonda's character, Sarah, suddenly turns from Madonna (the original kind) to Lady Macbeth, without turning a hair. Billy Bob Thornton, as Jacob, simply puts on a silly glasses, a dumb hat and slips in a bad denture and that's it for his acting The script gives us no real hint of why he's like he is (whatever that may be). The only real character and performance comes in the shape of Brent Briscoe, as Lou, the rednecked friend of Billy Bob's character. He is chillingly real in his haphazardness. But even some of his scenes don't ring true, because any person as sensible as Hank is supposed to be wouldn't get involved with such an unpredictable idiot.

Raimi works really well with the exterior shots, and the shots inside the plane are terrifically scary. But the characters are one dimensional (actually two dimensional is more correct here ) and they are pushed around the story like puppets. That makes their "plight" difficult to accept, and hard to identify with. So in the end, I had no emotional connection with the film. And that's a real problem for a morality play.