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The Man Who Wasn't There

4.1 out of 5 stars 230 customer reviews

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Special Features

  • Making "The Man Who Wasn't There"
  • Interview With Cinematographer Roger Deakins
  • Deleted Scenes/ Deleted Shots
  • Photo Gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, Katherine Borowitz
  • Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Producers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Eric Fellner, John Cameron
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Black & White, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: USA Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 16, 2002
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JKMG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,320 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Man Who Wasn't There" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I normally wind up with mixed emotions when it comes to films from the Coen brothers but I think they've got all their tricks in line with this one.
Those in the know with classic literature will easily notice that the "Man who wasn't..." is based on Camus' famed book "The stranger". The equations between this great book and the film are well balanced: the book is provoking and so is the film.

The plot is about a barber working in a small town. His life has all the tell-tale signs of a "nobody-special" man like him: his job isnt taking him anywhere, his marriage is a flat and boring non-relationship, his wife is double-timing him with one of his "friends", and he himself, well he doesn't seem to bother much about all that, or actually he doesn't seem to care about anything.
Life drags dully on, until the arrival of someone who tells the barber of his plan to hit the market with a new revolutionary business plan: dry cleaning. The whole scheme sounds attractive and has money-making potential written all over it but the missing element is the capital. The barber's mind goes on an interesting vortex of planning. He blackmails his well-off friend who has the affair with his wife for a nice bulky sum. That seems to work, the money is given, and then given on to the dry-cleaning guy and then, well, perhaps predictably, the wheels of the wagon start coming off in disturbing and untimely manner.
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Format: DVD
Here's a film that falls into the category of "classic noir," all but perfectly presented by the Brothers who are, in many ways, reinventing the movie. With stunning black-and-white cinematography and splendid performances by Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand (who, arguably, is one of the best actresses anywhere), the voiceover narrative of the unsmiling "hero" of the piece recounts the events leading up to his demise.
There is so much to like about this film: its faithful adherence to the exploration of small lives that become enlarged as a result of haphazard circumstance; its beautifully moody lighting and crisp images--where shadow has as much significance as light; and an overall evenness of tone that never for a moment hits a sour note.
Thornton, as the never-smiling barber with an acceptable life that is bereft of humor, of love, and of any viable friendship, gives a remarkably controlled performance that is perfectly matched by McDormand's barely contained appetite for love, for humor, for life, for something beyond the inertia of her marriage (to Thornton.) This is a film in which what goes unstated has as much power as what is; it also has what used to be referred to as a "sting in the tail" at the end.
Nothing can be anticipated in this film; the brothers exercise such great control over the material that even when the viewer thinks s/he knows what's coming, the surprise is there in the ironic ending.
A fine example of top-rate film-making, not to be missed.
1 Comment 56 of 65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on March 6, 2002
Format: DVD
After the crowd-pleasing knockabout comedy of the 30s-set "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" - a cheery, New Deal proposition which played out like "I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang" under the direction of the Keystone Kops - the new Coen brothers movie adopts the grimly fatalistic tone of a 50s noir thriller, its brooding shadows cast by both the Second World War and the resulting paranoias. If "O Brother" was the "before" photo of an America singing its way out of a Depression, then "The Man Who Wasn't There" is the snapshot labelled "after". It's cold and dark, and is certain to put off as many visitors to the Coens' world as "O Brother" attracted.
Thornton, his nicotine-stained voiceover containing enough tar to merit a Government health warning, is Ed Crane, a small-town barber forever sweeping up after those around him. The most passive of active smokers, Crane barely moves for himself until the one false move he makes to kill off his wife's lover and set off a chain of events leading to his own demise; it doesn't come as too much of a surprise when this hero goes out not in a hail of bullets, but sitting down to die.
One of the great joys of a Coen movie is that they cast, right down to the minor roles, people who can act to the extent that it's a pleasure to spend every moment of a longish film in the same room as them. (Even in the non-speaking roles, the brothers cast fascinating faces.
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