A Simple Plan
‘Sometimes good people do evil things.’ In this case, evil people do evil things. And it’s wickedly entertaining watching them do it. A Simple Plan was released in 1998, and should be seen by everyone.
Directed by Sam Raimi (The Grudge 2, The Messengers), this film is uncharacteristically good, coming from someone with his precedence. The story follows Hank (Bill ‘pick up the paycheck’ Paxton), his semi-retarded brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thorton), and Hank’s wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda). By happenstance, Hank and Jacob come across a downed airplane in the forest. Inside the aircraft is a duffel bag, full of millions of dollars. Accompanied by Jacob’s semi-retarded friend Lou, the three decide to keep the money provisionally, until they’re sure no one is looking for it, at which point, they’ll split the booty and get the hell out of Dodge. While the three argue the morality of keeping what could possibly be dirty, stolen, or drug money, they decide that it’s most likely a victimless crime. Hank runs the situation by his wife in hypothetical terms. To which she answers that under no circumstances would taking the money be appropriate. She holds firm in her stance until Hank dumps thousands of one hundred dollar bills on to her coffee table. It’s then that greed, poverty, and an unattainable desire for happiness start shaking things up.
This seems like a recitation of the the Adam and Eve story. Hank is skeptical, unflinchingly aware of the dire consequences, should they be caught. But once Sarah has her eye on the prize, Hank becomes her puppet, doing whatever she asks, no matter the consequences, tricking himself, and Jacob into thinking the money will bring them happiness–no matter the cost, and believe me, it costs them dearly.
The best part of this film was the fact that I had no idea what was going to happen. Three minutes before the credits started rolling, I still didn’t know how it was going to end. A rare feet indeed coming from the man who brought us Boogeyman 2. The direction was remarkable, keeping the suspense at an even build up, right to the very end. Billy Bob Thorton was remarkable (I don’t care about the stereotypes of playing a mentally ill person, he was bitchin’). Paxton was flat, but what do you expect? Fonda was terrifying in her performance of the cold-blooded, seemingly normal housewife. Even Gary Cole was entertaining in his small role. It was also fascinating in that you can see yourself in each of the characters. Each commits heinous acts that, with under the right circumstances, we can see ourselves committing. What would each of us do to provide better for our families, our children, our siblings? It’s a film that forces the viewer to take a good long look at himself, and see the good, and the evil, brimming just below the surface.