Frances leaves surly asshole bar owner for stoic cowboy bartender, bar owner hires sleazy private eye to spy and then murder them but he kills bar owner instead. Bartender discovers owner and thinks Frances did it, so buries the guy himself, then the private eye comes after both of them.
Cowboy Bartender was later notable as the only actor to bridge Cronenberg’s The Fly and its little-loved sequel. I feel like I should know Private Eye M. Emmet Walsh better than I do – time for a rewatch of Critters.
It’s uniquely structured in that the audience always knows exactly what’s happening, but none of the characters have the slightest clue, even though they’re all convinced they’re on top of it. The movie ends with a dying man laughing his head off as he finally realizes the mistake someone else has made—as cogent a summary of the Coens’ personal philosophy as can be found in any of their films.