4 Million Dollar Bill
"A Simple Plan" is one of the simplest movies I have watched, it is a study of what money can do to a man. Now in truth that isn't a new idea, I can think of a few movies I have watched over the years which focus on what money does to people but the fact that "A Simple Plan" is really simple makes it feel different. Yet I say it is simple but don't let that put you off because it is dramatic, well acted, beautifully shot and a little darkly amusing in places.
When Hank (Bill Paxton - Titanic), Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton - Armageddon) and Lou (Brent Briscoe) crash in to a tree whilst avoiding a fox they head on into the nearby woods after the little critter only to discover a crashed plane buried by snow. It is inside the plane they find a bag containing $4.4 million and after some dithering agree to keep it, well Hank agrees to keep it till Spring and then if no one has come looking for it they will divide it up between them. But money does strange things to people.
"A Simple Plan" is really a study of morality and at the centre of this is Hank whose simple life working at the grain mill and going home to his pregnant wife Sarah makes him content. It is Hank who on discovering the bag of money with Jacob and Lou insists they hand in to the police but with a heavily pregnant wife and the thought of the security that amount of money would bring agrees to a plan to keep it.
This is where the movie gets darkly amusing as when he tells Sarah she thinks things through and says that they should put some of the money back so that if someone came looking for the money some of it would still be there. But this leads to complications when someone discovers what they are up to and Hank has to make a split second decision what to do, silence the person or just give up. And that is basically what follows because we watch as the money changes Hank, leads him to do numerous things he would never normally do and leading him on a path of consequences. And of course we have that spiral effect as when Hank does one desperate thing it leads to another and another before delivering a darkly amusing but poetic ending.
Now "A Simple Plan" is a movie of almost bleakness when it comes to the look, we are in a snow covered town; buildings look old and beaten as do many of the characters. But in this washed out landscape there is this strange vibrancy brought on from the characters with both Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton doing a good job of playing brothers Hank and Jacob. Paxton plays Hank as very much an average Joe one who in many ways is manipulated by his wife who thinks things through, a small but nice performance from Bridget Fonda. And then Thornton plays Jacob as slightly quirky, the old brother who is a bit slow but not as slow as it seems, it's brilliant because he is odd but it is never forced just a wonderful portrayal of an authentically quirky character.
What this all boils down to is that "A Simple Plan" is a simple movie all about how money changes people and it is done in a restrained almost low key manner. But it is enthralling and slightly darkly amusing especially as we have a chain of events which get increasingly worse.