This is one of the earlier collaborations by the Cohen brothers who co-authored the screenplay, directed by Joel Cohen. I enjoyed it more when I saw it again recently than I did the first time almost 15 years ago because I now have a greater appreciation of Barry Sonnenfeld's brilliant cinematography. The acting is also outstanding, notably Gabriel Byne (Tom Reagan), Albert Finney (Leo), Marcia Gay Harden (Verna), Joe Polito (Johnny Caspar), and John Turturro (Bernie Bernbaum). There are two separate but related plots which are resolved, inevitably, in a violent climax. The first involves relationships between Irish-American and Italian-American gangsters during the 1930s; the other involves Reagan's relationships with his boss, Leo, and Leo's paramour, Verna. The screenplay examines how these and other relationships interact as loyalties are forged and betrayed, ambitions collide, and difficult choices must be made. Bernie Bernbaum is one of the most interesting characters in this film. He is Verna's brother, a silver-tongued bookie, who pays for protection by Leo which proves necessary when he falls deeply into debt to Caspar. The Coens are experts at choreographing almost casual human collisions during the completion of what often resembles a chess game, focusing our attention on a sequence of moves and counter-moves. (That is less true of the Coens' Fargo which has a much tighter plot.) As in The Road to Perdition (2002), this film brilliantly captures its period and locale while examining various types of dysfunctional relationships which have probably existed for thousands of years. Whereas I associate the first and second Godfather films with Tolstoy and Dickens, I associate Miller's Crossing as well as The Road to Perdition with Aeschylus and Sophocles.
Can the Coen brothers make a bad movie? I haven't seen it yet. Saying that Miller's Crossing is "a gangster movie", or is "about gangsters" is like saying that War and Peace is "about" Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Yes, the story involves Gabriel Byrne as a smart-mouthed young assistant to the head gangster (Albert Finney)--and who just happens to be sleeping with the boss's main squeeze (Marcia Gay Harden). But the movie is really about honesty--a question of ethics, as … more
One of the best movies I've seen. It has been in my top 5 movies since I first saw it when it was released. I have never been able to review it because the review becomes a Master's thesis. I recommend it without reservation.
It's hard to find someone who doesn't like gangster movies. Gangster movies show such a complex, criminal world with colorful characters, drama and violence that makes it easy to get caught up and engrossed in. To me the Coen Brothers have made some of the best and most unique films out now. Focussing on crime but delving into comedy and drama, almost every one of their movies are different and unique and many of their movies simply look astounding. To … more
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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Leo, a likeable Irish gangster boss, rules an Eastern city along with Tom, his trusted lieutenant and couselor. But just as their authority is challenged by an Italian underboss and his ruthless henchman, Leo and Tom fall for the same woman. Tom, caught in the jaws of a gangland power struggle, walks a deadly tightrope as he tries to control and manipulate its violent outcome.