A Simple Plan is a 1998 film directed by Sam Raimi and based on the book of the same name by Scott Smith. I haven't read the novel, though it was a big, big best-seller, but if it's as good as the film, then there' s no doubt that it deserves its success. The film is gripping pretty much from start to finish, with good acting, moral dilemmas to think about, and several decent twists.
Hank (Bill Paxton) is a well-educated married man living in a snowy and remote rural community; his wife (Bridget Fonda) is a librarian who is expecting a baby. He has a brother, Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) who isn't bright, but the siblings have a close relationship. One day, they go on a trip with a pal called Lou, and come across a plane, buried in the snow. When Hank climbs inside, he finds that the pilot is long dead. He also discovers that the cargo is a load of money - not far short of five million dollars. So what should they do?
What they don't do, needless to say, is report their find to the proper authorities. After some hesitation, Hank takes control of the money, and the trio agree to wait to see what happens about the plane before spending any of it. To his surprise, Hank finds that his wife soon agrees that they should keep their share of the money. The way in which the film shows essentially decent people making very questionable choices is a real strength.
As you might imagine, things do not go as the three amateur thieves would hope, and before long, innocent blood is shed. Hank and Jacob don't behave admirably, and yet I didn't lose sympathy for them. (Perhaps some viewers will take a harsher view of them, but I felt that Paxton and Thornton did a brilliant job of conveying the way that human beings so often rationalise self-serving decisions.) I'm glad I watched this film. It's one of the best thrillers I've seen recently.