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Miller's Crossing

Miller's Crossing

Director:Joel Coen
Cast:Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Albert Finney, Jon Polito
Release Date:2008
Genre:Drama, Classic, Crime

By Lee Gardner | Posted 6/18/2008

After helping launch the modern neo-noir boom with 1985's Blood Simple, the Coen Brothers soon retrenched to actual period noir, or at least their own stylized take on it, in Miller's Crossing (1990). Rising crime boss Johnny Caspar (Coen regular Jon Polito) wants to give repellent loan shark Bernie (John Turturro) the big adios, but established crime boss Leo (Albert Finney) says no because he's sleeping with Bernie's sister Verna (Marcia Gay Harden). Leo's taciturn lieutenant Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) thinks his boss is dangerously wrong, but then again he's sleeping with Verna, too, so he has little room to talk. The crosses and double crosses play out into yet another cinematic gloss on Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest with the attendant questions of loyalty, self-preservation, and self-respect attached. Miller's Crossing's drab rooms and airy forests look amazing, and the actors clearly have a fabulous time spitting the Coens' baroque take on vintage gangsterspeak. The movie's slight ironic distance from the fedora-topped world it depicts keeps it from equaling the emotional power of the best of the movies it bows to, but it remains a wry, finely crafted pleasure.

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