The Man Who Wasn’t There, written and directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
10 out of 10
Notes and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This is an excellent, sophisticated film that deserved more acclaim than it received.
It won one of the most important awards in the industry, for I think that The Cannes Festival is more important than the Oscars in determining the quality and value of a moving picture, especially in history.
- Joel Coen was awarded the Best Director prize at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival
This is a brilliant narrative, with philosophical insight, a dark, outré humor and a special atmosphere, filmed in black and white.
Billy Bob Thornton is exceptional in the Leading Role of Ed Crane, a barber with metaphysical inclinations.
He is married to Doris, a woman with a much stronger personality and engaged in an affair with her boss, Big Dave, portrayed with skill by James Gandolfini, who is both a humorous character- “Arny Bragg again??- And a violent man.
Ed Crane: [after reminiscing about their first date] It was only a couple weeks later she suggested getting married. I said, "Don't you want to get to know me more?" She said, "Why? Does it get better?" She looked at me like I was a dope, which I never really minded from her. And she had a point, I guess. We knew each other as well then as now. Anyway, well enough.
Ed Crane appears to those around him as an insignificant personage, but he does see that Doris has an affair, thinks up a scheme through which he sends an anonymous note to Big Dave, asking him for $ 10,000 in exchange for the secret that he is involved in an extra-marital relationship and even gets that money invested in a supposed business of dry cleaning, with a man called Creighton Tolliver, who made a pass at Ed.
Creighton Tolliver has made the same proposal to Big Dave, $ 10,000 for a dry cleaning business and the following day he received the blackmailing note, therefore the latter made the connection and assumed the former is the blackmailer.
He tells about this assumption to Ed Crane, who is actually the one interested in using the money for the dry cleaning.
Ed is attracted by Birdy Abundas, a young, extremely attractive neighbor who plays the piano and is played by Scarlett Johansson.
This interest may be more, if not purely platonic, the older man taking her to be evaluated by a famous professor in San Francisco
“Jacques Carcanogues: [to Ed, after Birdy's audition] I think, one day, she'll make a very good typist. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping. Voila!”
Alas, the above quote pretty much sums up the result of the audition and getting back home from it an accident is even more of a problem.
Big Dave finds out who sent the note, by shaking- as he says- the “panzy” and realizing it was Ed Crane.
The Big man attacks his blackmailer and he is near the point of strangling him to death, when, at the last moment a weapon is available.
This can be unveiled without a spoiler alert, for it takes place near the middle of the film and there are complications.
A lawyer is hired, for an unexpected defendant, for the police come to the barber shop where Crane works, but for a different reason.
When he asks them if they came to take him, there is another humorous moment, if a dark one, for they are embarrassed and say that they do not know how to put this to him and they hate this but, someone is accused of murder…only it is not Ed.
The lawyer hired, Freddy Riedenschneider- what a name- is played exquisitely by Tony Shalhoub and it is a phenomenal part:
“Reidenschneider: They got this guy, in Germany. Fritz Something-or-other. Or is it? Maybe it's Werner. Anyway, he's got this theory, you wanna test something, you know, scientifically - how the planets go round the sun, what sunspots are made of, why the water comes out of the tap - well, you gotta look at it. But sometimes you look at it, your looking changes it. Ya can't know the reality of what happened, or what would've happened if you hadn't-a stuck in your own goddamn schnozz. So there is no "what happened"? Not in any sense that we can grasp, with our puny minds. Because our minds... our minds get in the way. Looking at something changes it. They call it the "Uncertainty Principle". Sure, it sounds screwy, but even Einstein says the guy's on to something.”
The Man Who Wasn’t There is a fantastic film.