Movie: "The Man Who Wasn't There"
Year: 2001
Rated: R
Genre: Drama
Directed by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writing credits: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Reviewer: -RoG-
Posted: 3/17/2009

Plot: A barber gets into trouble than he can handle when he blackmails his wife's lover.

Review: I don't know what it is about Billy Bob Thornton's voice, but I love hearing the guy narrate a movie, and The Man Who Wasn't There is the cream of the crop when it comes to 'em. It's a black & white neo-oir film by the Coen brothers and for some reason, it seems to be their most unappreciated one. Maybe it wasn't promoted well... and the fact that it was out of print for a while didn't help it get the recognition it deserves either.

So the film stars Billy Bob Thornton as Ed Crane, a barber in a small town set in 1949. While he's wordy in his narration, his character is extremely terse in reality... often to the point where most people would suspect he's devoid of any emotion whatsoever. And it's because of this that hearing what's really going on in his head via narration that the movie is so completely engrossing.

The story revolves around Ed's life - in particular his wife's infidelities with her boss whom Ed blackmails to raise money for a dry cleaning business investment. He may be a seemingly simple man, but his life quickly gets as complicated as you could imagine.

It's a fantastically dark drama which takes a look at how many lives are deeply affected by a few bad choices. In addition to Billy Bob Thorton's cold performance, The Man Who Wasn't There has one hell of a good cast. Frances McDormand (whom we all remember from "Fargo"), James Gandolfini, Tony Shalhoub, Michael Badalucco, Scarlett Johansson, Richard Jenkins and more are all perfectly cast in the film.

If you're a fan of the Coen brothers, this is simply one film you've gotta see because it really is a masterpiece. Just don't expect it to be the feel-good movie of the year. Sure, it has humor, but it's of the darkest variety and the story itself is about as bleak as they come. And honestly, you wouldn't want it any other way.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Forum Virgin
Mar 17th, 2009, 04:00 PM
Dark humor, bleak story, Billy Bob Thorton. Sounds good, any Ideas where I'd be ale to find this.
The Magnificent Bastard
Mar 17th, 2009, 06:17 PM
Sometimes it comes on Encore, and various spin-off channels thereof.
Pickled Patriarch
Mar 17th, 2009, 07:26 PM
Mental Pooperscooper, it's no longer out of print, so you should be able to find it for sale on Amazon or any other online DVD shop.
Mar 18th, 2009, 03:43 AM
I'm really going to have to watch this movie. It seems right up my alley.
Forum Virgin
Mar 18th, 2009, 03:51 AM
I LOVE this movie. When the Cohens released this and "Oh Brother" back to back was their high water mark just before they crapped out (Ladykillers?), and then got all pretentious(pick between Country and Burn, they were both wankfests). My favorite bits are when he recollects marrying his wife.... He says, "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.".. F'n gold. And at the end when he's sizing up all the haircuts... Won't give anything away. A truly underrated film and I'm glad you reviewed it. They nailed the whole Noir bit to a tee... And Billy Bob has never been better. One of the most underrated actors around right now. Cheers guys, you never cease to amaze me with what you pull out in your reviews...
is hopped up on goofballs
Mar 18th, 2009, 10:30 AM
Yeah, this is my second favorite Cohen bro's film right behind Oh Brother. Nobody I know seems to have seen it. It's on pretty often on one of the premium channels for any of you that want to watch it.
Mar 18th, 2009, 02:58 PM
I agree the casting was wonderful in this film. Nice story line, the CB always make me care about the characters
Crazy dog woman
Mar 19th, 2009, 04:25 PM
I thought it was great too. There are a lot of movies where a few bad choices leads to really complicated consequences. But most of them aren't believable, they just leave you with the feeling that the main character had all those opportunities to get out of his trouble again that he would have taken if he wasn't such a complete idiot. But with this movie you really understand how he got there, it really feels like everything happens to him inevitably.
Bustin makes me feel good
Mar 21st, 2009, 09:42 PM
Another great Coen Brothers movie, but in my opinion, Hudsucker Proxy is their most often overlooked film. I mean, Paul Newman? Come on. You know, for kids!
Pickled Patriarch
Mar 21st, 2009, 10:04 PM
The Hudsucker Proxy is my favorite Coen Brothers movie by far, but I feel like far more people have seen it than The Man Who Wasn't There. But yeah, everybody should see both of those movies... no doubt about it.
Bustin makes me feel good
Mar 22nd, 2009, 05:58 PM
Really, RoG? Granted, I don't live in the most intellectual area, but I could count on one hand the amount of people I know who have seen The Hudsucker Proxy, much less even know of its existence. I guess that's what makes it so special to me. Lebowski is my favorite Coen Brothers film, but most people know about it, so whenever I watch Hudsucker it's like my own little secret film.