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The Man Who Wasn't There (2002)

A movie directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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A truly creative collaboraton

  • Apr 17, 2002
Though not a passionate Coen brothers' films fan, I think THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE is more than just another one of their quirky films. This beautifully photographed film unfolds a story so unique that it justifies all the directorial techniques it receives. Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, and James Gandolfini are visually and technically marvelous. The method of telling this dark tale of revengeful moves in black and white accompanied by piano sonatas of Beethoven is a delight. The twists and turns of the plot, the monotone narration by Thornton, the sounds of life leaving (as in Gandolfini's death scene), the unexpected response by the powers that be at every turn - all of these parts add up to a sum of genuinely fine story telling. Highly recommended DVD.

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More The Man Who Wasn't There reviews
review by . March 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
was a great noir debut about misunderstanding identity.  Raising Arizona was a screwball comedy about stealing an identity.  Miller's Crossing was a deep gangster movie about discovering identity ("Nobody knows anybody. Not that well")  Barton Fink was a Hollywood insiders movie about understanding your own identity.  The Hudsucker Proxy was a fast-talking dialogue driven 1930s comedy about keeping your identity in the face of all odds against.  Fargo …
review by . February 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I Wish I wasn't....There.
Bar none the Coen's remain my favorite film makers but the 2000's didn't start out for them that well.      O Brother, was loved by some and panned by others, there was this film and later came Intolerable Cruelty which some saw as too commercial and The Ladykillers for being too weak for some including myself.      The Man Who Wasn't There isn't a "bad" movie but it could have been filmed on ambien instead of film cause it can …
Quick Tip by . October 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of the worst movies I've ever seen, made even worse by the fact that the Coen Brothers did it (yea they make sucky movies but their good ones are brilliant). Tony Shaloob's character partly explains Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle at some point in the movie--I wanted to be uncertain about it, but no--it is just simply wretched.
Quick Tip by . November 06, 2009
Extremely low key Coen Brother movie about a barber who attempts to get rich quick but should have stayed in his obscure and boring routine.
review by . February 20, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Billy Bob! Frances McDormand     Cons: nothing     The Bottom Line: Bottom line is that this film is a WINNER.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. I live in such a googy small town that this was playing as a "Special Events" - the regular movie houses wouldn't touch it! Looking back - I think it was a perfect choice.      The latest by the Cohen Brothers is not a dissapointment …
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Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie


For all of its late-1940s cold war paranoia, pulp fiction dialogue, and frenzied greed, Joel and Ethan Coen'sThe Man Who Wasn't Thereis their most cool and collected film sinceBlood Simple. An unassuming barber with a scheming wife (Frances McDormand) and a serious smoking habit, Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) is an onlooker to his own life, a ghostly presence set against a silver-toned film noir backdrop. Only when he decides to alter his fate by blackmailing his wife's lover (James Gandolfini) in order to invest with a traveling salesman (Jon Polito) touting the wave of the future--dry cleaning--do we begin to hear the full extent of Ed's understated, existential lament. As his lawyer (Tony Shalhoub) says in Ed's defense at his eventual trial for murder, "He is modern man." Thornton's deadpan eloquence and cinematographer Roger Deakins's precision lighting offer the perfect counterbalance to the requisite one-liners, plot twists, and false endings that have come to characterize recent Coen brothers films. Almost in spite of the obsessive cultural references (flying saucers, Nabokov'sLolita, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle), Ed Crane steps neatly from the fray as one of cinema's most memorably disenchanted characters.--Fionn Meade

The Coen brothers' THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE is a brilliantly photographed black-and-white absurdist noir set in Santa Rosa, California, in 1949. Ed Crane (the outstanding Billy Bob ...
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Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Crime, Drama
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
DVD Release Date: April 16, 2002
Runtime: 116 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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