A Simple Plan (Sam Raimi, 1998)

A Simple Plan proposes its ideas rather bluntly, and makes for an effective, if undemanding film.  The premise is straightforward – the educated Hank (Bill Paxton), his uneducated brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and the oafish Lou (Brent Briscoe) stumble upon millions of dollars in a forest preserve. After some deliberation, the three decide to take it. Hank rationalizes that it’s likely drug money, and that once spring arrives, the three can split the money and move their separate ways. The money presents opportunities to Hank – his wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda) is pregnant and the three would no longer have to meander through the day-to-day boredom of their lives. For Jacob, the money could buy him the love that has eluded him his entire life. For Lou, it’s the chance to get out of his debts. There’s a stake that all the characters have in the money, and such is the case, turmoil brews.

The problem doesn’t come from the actors, but rather Raimi, whose stylistic sensibilities create B-movie aesthetics out of something that should be more refined. The writing is a bit all over the place as well. Why the film is staged fairly well, there are lapses in logic that make the whole narrative difficult to take seriously. Then there’s the dull and entirely underdeveloped commentary regarding socioeconomic positioning and perceptions on the educated. Films like A History of Violence or Fargo make a film like A Simple Plan a bit redundant and unnecessary.