Coenpalooza! Miller's Crossing

(USA, 1990, 115 mins, DCP)
CAST Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro, Marcia Gay Harden, Jon Polito, Steve Buscemi


What’s the rumpus? The Coens’ riff on Dashiell Hammett’s 1930s gangster novels The Glass Key and Red Harvest is one of their most flavourful achievements, an intricate, complex, compelling study of integrity among thieves set in the ethically compromised world of civic politics in the Prohibition era.

Gabriel Byrne channels Humphrey Bogart as Tom Regan, right hand man to crime boss Albert Finney - who is embroiled in a turf war with a rival gangster, Caspar (Jon Polito). Regan is pulled into a dangerous middle ground by his lover, Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), whose brother Bernie (John Turturro) is on Caspar’s hit-list.

With its highly poetic hardboiled dialogue and dreamy ambiance, Miller’s Crossing is a kind of zen gangster movie, contemplative and wistful. Yet there is real feeling here that keeps bursting through its immaculate period veneer, a dread of betrayal, that bullet in the back.

"A superb, languid fantasia on the theme of the gangster film that repays endless viewing." David Thomson, Have You Seen…?

"Maybe the greatest motion picture of the last 20 years." Jim Emerson, Scanners (2007)

"Elegantly profound, it’s a meditation on what doing the right thing might mean, with a spookily good, career-best performance from Byrne." Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph