1990, Joel and Ethan Coen, 115 mins.
A complex tale of love and betrayal among gangsters.
The peculiar talents of the Coen brothers were in evidence right from the start in Blood Simple but they were refined to perfection in Miller’s Crossing. It’s a period gangster movie which crackles with their characteristic style of dialogue – slightly over-literary, self-conscious, unfailingly witty – and looks sensational thanks to Barry Sonnenfeld’s autumnal, achingly nostalgic cinematography. The plot twists and turns in a most satisfying manner but what makes this distinctive is that it’s not merely clever, it has a genuine emotional pull captured beautifully by Carter Burwell’s rich orchestral score. Great set-pieces abound but the one you’ll remember involves Albert Finney, a machine gun and a recording of “Danny Boy”. Gabriel Byrne and Marcia Gay Harden are memorable leads but the fun is had by the supporting talents of Finney, Jon Polito, J. E. Freeman and a weaselly John Turturro.