The Man Who Wasn't There
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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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really great movie - typically offbeat like most of the Coen Brothers work, but overall excellent, surprises & great acting by Billy Bob.Published 28 days ago by John Anderson
Judged strictly by the usual cinematic standards, "The Man Who Wasn't There" doesn't deserve five stars, but closer to three. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Adam Pruzan
I love the Coen Brother films and this one is no different in the liking the film. A bit weird and done in a film noir style it has a big surprise twist at the end. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anna M. Haas
Hard to beat a Coen Bros. movie. Billy Bob Thorton played an excellent role. The plot twisted around a lot--just when you think you got it figured, nope.Published 1 month ago by Kent L. Johnson
had trouble loading disk
had trouble ejecting disk
i wouldlike another copy
OK, decent entertainment. Good story line. Accurate portrayal of Attorneys.Published 2 months ago by Boo
Other people have already reviewed the film and even lent synopsis of plot, so I will not.
This film is one of the most impressive black and white films I have eve seen. Read more
Love this film. The Coens are right on target again. Great performance by Thornton in a classic character role. The other characters are great too.Published 3 months ago by MiserableOldFart
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