The Man Who Wasn't There

Tuesday 14th January 20037:00 PM

It's a matter of dispute whether the Coen brothers have ever made a bad film; you could argue that they've never even made an average one. All the way from their snowbound, Oscar-winning murder story Fargo, through the frankly bizarre Big Lebowski to the bluegrass O Brother, Where Art Thou? their films have all had a streak of the unique and peculiar running through them.

The Man Who Wasn't There tells the story of a laconic, chain-smoking small-town barber in the 1950s (Billy-Bob Thornton), who gets caught up in a mix of scams, murder, betrayal, and dry-cleaning. While fully aware of his wife's affair with a local businessman - "It's a free world" - for some time, the collapse of an investment with a dodgy travelling salesman gives him the perfect excuse to plot his rival's downfall and his wife's comeuppance.

Meanwhile he takes the daughter of a friend (Scarlett Johannson) under his wing, when he hears her incredible piano playing, trying to get her lessons from a succession of prima-donna teachers. Of course, this being a Coen brothers film, nothing is quite as simple as all that, and the noir-ish plot soon becomes twisted and dark, whilst always remaining strangely humourous. While some may balk at the truly odd ending and the lack of a happily-ever-after conclusion to the story, everyone else should be dazzled by the beautiful black and white cinematography, brilliant script, and wonderful performances by the central cast.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:

81%

Genre:

Crime, Drama

Director:

Joel Coen

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Leads:

Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, Katherine Borowitz

Music:

Carter Burwell

Length:

116 minutes

Year:

2001

Country:

USA

Language:

English

15

These pages copyright Union Films, 2001-2017. All views expressed in these pages are those of Union Films, and are not necessarily those of the University Of Southampton, or the Students' Union. All logos and trademarks are property of their respective organisations.

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