A Simple Plan ★★★★
This bleak, snowbound thriller from Scott B Smith’s debut novel in which money leads to murder is showing as a tribute to Bill Paxton, who died last month, aged 61. With Stephen King parallels in its domestic tale of small-town equilibrium shattered by an unexpected event, it tells a simple story: mill worker Paxton and not-so-brainy brother Billy Bob Thornton stumble upon a crashed plane and a duffel bag containing $4 million in cash. Paxton’s Lady Macbeth-like pregnant wife (Bridget Fonda) pushes him deeper into trouble, involving blackmail, lies and the inevitable. Director Sam Raimi makes atmospheric capital from snowy footprints and slow progress, while Thornton asks his bro, “Do you ever feel evil?” Chilly, engrossing and human, it recalls Shallow Grave andThe Treasure of the Sierra Madre. And it’s a nice, lesser-seen gem from Paxton’s foreshortened career.
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