With most Coen. Bros. there's alot of room for interpretation, some of intentional, some of it not but it's always interesting. Here, the subtext seems to be homosexuality depending on your point of view, especially with the love triangle of Mink, Dane and Bernie Bernbaum but as I said, it's open to interpretation, it's never explicitly stated.
There's also Tom's descent into cold blood murder, I think up until that point, Tom had always managed to avoid it and therefore kept his hands clean but by the end he just can't avoid it and has to finally get blood on his hands, I think this contributed to the end of his friendship with Leo among other things.
There was one shot of Johnny Caspar sitting beside the fire and it immediately conjured up an image of hell with Caspar as Satan. I think Tom going over to Caspar's side in order to get rid of Bernie meant he had to make a deal with the devil and the end price was his soul because he took Bernie's life in cold blood.
These are all just theories so discredit them at your will but that's what makes this film so great, the literal meaning's you can take out of it.
Of course, the acting is superb. Gabriel Byrne plays such a likeable bastard as Tom, you can tell he's really enjoying the coens dialogue, Arthur Finney is also great as Leo, his Danny Boy scene is one of cinema's greatest moment's, just fantastic. Marcia Gay Harden conjures the spirit of any classic movie star from the forties and John Turturro, well, his performance is pretty much pitch perfect.
I'll always remember Jon Polito from Homicide but he delivers a good performance as Johnny Caspar, even though he looks like he's going to drop dead from a heart attack any moment throughout the movie and finally we come to, THE DANE, such a classic villain and J.E Freeman is awesome. Every line he utters in the movie could've from any classic gangster movie but it's filtered through the coens style. I loved it when he replied with "Nuts" when Caspar tried to calm him down.
This film looks so elegant, Barry Sonnenfeld did such a great job here with the cinematography, that forest is beautiful. The score is also fantastic, it's such a rich mix of irish and classical composing. I think I've heaped enough praise on this movie but I can't help it.