Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Man Who Wasn't There

Movie Name: The Man Who Wasn't There
Year of Release: 2001
Director: Joel & Ethan Coen
Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, James Gandolfini, Michael Badalucco, Jon Polito, Scarlett Johansson, Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub, Katherine Borowitz
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Following the critical and commercial success of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", the Coen Brothers returned with a decidedly more stylistic and subdued feature. "The Man Who Wasn't There" follows the story of Ed Crane, a low key barber who is married to Doris, a bookkeeper with a drinking problem. Doris is having an affair with her boss, something that Ed has already figured out. When one of Ed's customers mentions he's looking for an investor for a new business he's mounting, he decides to blackmail Dave, Doris' boss. Dave decides to embezzle money from his department store to pay for the blackmail, but soon figures out who's responsible for the scheme. This sets in motion a series of events that leads to dramatic results.
"The Man Who Wasn't There" is a stark and stylistically beautiful film from the Coen Brothers, with a stunning cinematography from their usual collaborator Roger Deakins. It's also a film that has a somber tone and rhythm, unlike most of their previous features which were always dominated by a continuous momentum. The film is an apt reflection of the dour central character, perfectly embodied by Billy Bob Thornton. It's an austere film noir, that definitely lacks a punch, which is where the film ends up faltering. The cast is phenomenal, which is typical for their productions, but the film misses a more aggressive pacing and momentum. A more subdued effort from these talented film makers.