8 January 2013

“It doesn’t make sense,” says Bernie before Tom Reagan shoots him. Many of the decisions Reagan makes in the Cohen brother’s Millers Crossing don’t seem to make sense. The viewer is never clear what exactly motivates him. It doesn’t seem to be the dame, as Bernie was the brother she cared for. He isn’t loyal to the political boss, who employs Reagan at the beginning of the film. He is not out for money, save what he owes his bookies.
Reagan himself perhaps doesn’t know what motivates him. When his former employer explains what he thinks motivated Tom, he replies, “Do you do everything for a reason?” Reagan is a thinking man working and living in the midst of gangsters who act for simple and strategic reasons. He is valued by the mob bosses for his insights and clear thinking. He is famous for his quick wit, and tendency to say just exactly what is on his mind. Is it Truth, then, that motivates Reagan? Though most of his actions are ostensibly for his own benefit, he reaps no great reward, and doesn’t seem upset about it.
“Only an idiot would chase after his hat,” says Reagan as he is pondering the lessons of a dream he had about his hat. This seems to be a key point in the film, though I’m not sure what to make of it. The last scene of the film shows Reagan pulling his hat onto his head extra tight, perhaps to protect it from being blown off his head. With his cool as a cucumber demeanor, he strives to project the image of someone who always knows what is going on and why. It is clear however that life’s great mysteries elude him though. He is not afraid to act, but he does seem to be afraid to act with purpose. He simply pulls his hat on a little tighter to keep it from getting away from him.


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