The Man Who Wasn't There

The Man Who Wasn't There

DVD - 2002
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In a sleepy Northern California town in the 1940s, Ed Crane, a humble barber, suspects that his wife Doris is having an affair with her boss. When a stranger comes into town hinting that there is a fortune to be made in investing in the new invention of dry cleaning, Ed hatches a blackmail scheme he hopes will make him rich and get him some revenge at the same time. His plan goes horribly awry when he accidentally commits a murder for which Doris is blamed, landing her in jail, and Ed at the mercy of big-city lawyer Freddy Riedenschneider.

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p
PHAERTE1
Apr 08, 2017

In my opinion, this is the best Coen Brothers movie ever made. It is essentially a perfect movie. A brilliant lawyer takes Heisenberg's "uncertainty principle" from quantum mechanics and attempts to apply it in a criminal court case? Am I joking? No I am not. Try and find this kind of story in another movie. You won't. This movie is vastly underrated.

j
Janice21383
Jan 29, 2017

The attractions of film noir are short, sharp, and shocking. But The Man Who Wasn't There, billed as a retro-noir "with a wink", is not. The elements are there: a little man, a big temptation, ironic twists, downfall. But the film seems mesmerized by its own beautiful black-and-white photography. Billy Bob Thornton's dull narration and the sleep-inducing soundtrack sucks out what little energy there is. Everyone gives as good a performance as he can (interesting to see Scarlett Johansson giving her signature zombie-like performance, even at this early age), but it's hard to care about characters who have one foot outside their own world. Film buffs may enjoy references to Hitchcock's and other movies of the era.

k
KathleenRiley
Oct 22, 2015

Coen brothers made me think this movie had a chance... it was disappointing. I liked that it was shot in B&W, but that's about all. Young girl falls for old man, meh. Is Frances McDormand becoming Clint Howard for the brothers? Don't get me wrong, she's a good actress I just wonder if there are additional options. I could think of lots of things to do other than watching this movie.

t
ThomasJWhiting
Oct 06, 2015

A bit slow, but it hooked me and I watched to the end - LOTS of cigarette smoking...

a
akirakato
May 20, 2015

This is a 2001 British-American neo-noir film written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.
Although the performances of Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand are superb, the stolyline is disgusting.
If the screenplay is bad, even a talented director can't make it into a good movie.
Besides, the main character talks too much as a narrator, though he is a low-key taciturn man in the real life.
And the UFO is a letdown.
After all, this film is way below standard---if not a flop.

m
Monolith
Feb 15, 2014

I loved this film. Beautifully photographed, with great classically scored accompaniment. Dry tongue-in-cheek wit following the futility of Ed Crane's mundane monotony, and the collapse of his house of cards of a life after an act of desperation. Everyone in the cast was terrific. I really thought this quirky Coen bros. piece was well done.

lasertravis May 13, 2013

I really enjoyed this throwback crime drama. Paired with The Good German, which I watched recently, it really captured a classic movie look without the dated feel that I find hard to watch. The pacing is slow (shocker. Coen.) but I enjoyed the twists and turns. I thought all the performances were spot on. I can see how this wouldn't be for everyone because of the dry narrative by Thornton, the black and white photography and the slow pacing.

f
Fuzzy_Wuzzy
Nov 04, 2012

OK. Meet Ed Crane. Ed is a so-so barber from Smalltown, California - circa 1949._____ Ed's a real dead-faced, chain-smoking son-of-a-sod who's forever dropping his cigarette ash onto the heads of his customers while he robotically cuts their hair._____ Even though Ed's the title character in this film he barely utters a single word throughout the entire length of this picture. Ed's inability to get involved in even the simplest of conversations is unbelievably annoying. But it seems that none of the other characters in this screwy film seem to mind Ed's puzzling lapses into dead silence. _____ Even though Ed's character may not have much to gab about to those around him, he literally never shuts his trap when it comes to his voice-over narration nonsense. I can't begin to tell you how stupid I found the effect of this whole voice-over business to be._____ Well, eventually Ed, the chain-smoking mute, gets involved in murder and to prove what a total heel he really is, allows his wife to take the rap for it. _____ All in all, The Man Who Wasn't There was worthless, mediocre entertainment._____ Filmed in b&w.

b
bruins
Sep 17, 2009

Just not up to the usual Coen standard of excellence.

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m
Monolith
Feb 15, 2014

Ed Crane (transfixed on the scalp of a young boy, to whom he's just given a buzzcut): "Frank?" Frank: "Hmm?" Ed Crane: "...This hair..." Frank: "Yeah." Ed Crane: "You ever wonder about it?" Frank: "Whattya mean?" Ed Crane: "I don't know... How it keeps on coming. It just keeps growing." Frank: "Yeah! Lucky for us, huh pal?" Ed Crane: "No, I mean -- it keeps growing... It's part of us... and we cut it off and throw it away..."

m
Monolith
Feb 15, 2014

Ed Crane: "I was a ghost. I didn't see anyone. No one saw me. ...I was the barber."

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