The icily pristine Maine woods in winter serve as the backdrop for tainted
human behavior in BLOOD AND MONEY, the compelling indie feature directed
by John Barr. Tom Berenger stars as Jimmy Reid, a battered oldtimer who
lives in his van and spends his time hunting for deer. Jimmy is something
of a tragic figure: an ex-Marine who fought in Viet Nam and has been pummeled
by life. His marriage failed when a mistake on his part resulted in the
death of a beloved daughter. Haunted by bad memories, he has pretty much
given up on society. A loner, a man of few words, he gets by on a government
pension, AA meetings, and an occasional meal at a local diner, where a
fetching young waitress (Kristen Hager) always flashes a smile for him.
Jimmy is also in poor health. Hes got some kind of lung disease
(probably TB) that causes him to spit up blood and even pass out. But
that doesnt keep him from taking to the woods and crunching through
snow and ice with rifle in hand-and a cigarette in his mouth-in
search of big game.
Its on one of those forays that he spots what appears to be a deer.
He takes telescopic aim and fires, hitting and killing his target. Which
turns out to be a woman who was carrying a duffel bag stuffed with cash.
He soon learns that she was part of a gang that robbed a nearby gambling
casino and fled into the woods to escape punishment.
in possession of a million bucks, decides to keep the loot. Bad move.
The heavily armed crooks soon realize hes the guy whos got
their loot. They begin to track him in grim, relentless fashion, swearing
to kill him once they catch up with him. The hunter becomes the hunted.
Director Barr (who co-wrote the screenplay with Alan Petherick and Mike
McGrale) does a nifty job in building suspense over the course of this
89-minute movie. A study in greed and survival, it also benefits greatly
from Berengers strong, confident performance. With his craggy face,
raspy voice, and eyes radiating pain and world-weariness, Jimmy is an
all-too-human character, a crusty old coot who, despite his many flaws,
makes you care for him.
There is a third major character in BLOOD AND MONEY: the Maine woods.
Snow-covered, silent, thick with trees and streams, the Allagash forest
is a world unto itself. Barr, who also served as director of photography,
captures the Allagashs uniqueness with his precise, atmospheric
camera work. Zak McNeils low-key but insistent musical score also
helps give the film its eerie, unsettling edge.