As I’ve previously mentioned in my post about the remake of True Grit, I’m a massive Coen brothers fan, so when my girlfriend selected Miller’s Crossing from the DVD stack to watch last week, I was overjoyed.
So, what’s the rumpus? Crossing depicts life in prohibition era America, following Tom (Gabriel Byrne), adviser to Albert Finney’s mob boss Leo, whose woman Tom happens to be sleeping with. The film features many outstanding performances, especially John Turturro as the excellently named crooked bookie Bernie Burnbaum, Jon Polito as rival mobster Caspar and Steve Buscemi as the weaselly Mink, cast purely for his ability to speak the dialogue faster than any of the other actors. The plot is typically dense, as Tom switches allegiances amid the ensuing power struggles, and you must pay attention if you want to follow the plot, so often are major events discussed bullet-fast.
The film’s standout scene has to be the Danny Boy sequence. Albert Finney has never topped a list of movie bad-asses, especially dressed in a red silk dressing gown, embroidered slippers and half-moon spectacles, but after seeing his thwart an attack on his life using only a liberated tommy gun, some unexpected acrobatics and a cigar he never stops chewing, you’ll think he could take out the Expendables single-handed.
The Coens are well known for playing with their audience, something they delight in here, with many conversations taking place, before panning round and revealing an unexpected listener, altering the entire dynamic of the scene, and hats are used more pivotally than possibly in any other film, giving away a person’s whereabouts, used as currency or symbolising a loss of dignity.
So that’s the rumpus, an excellent comedic gangster noir about friendship, character and ethics. And hats.
Choose film 8/10