Who Wasnít There"
|By Mira Harber
The Man Who
Wasnít There is a modern day film-noir by the Coen Brothers. It is gorgeously
shot in black and white and shows more shades than any color film could
dream of. The story is basic film-noir - the right man, wrong crime, bad-girl
wife, shadows, light sliding through partially open venetian blinds and
lots of cigarette smoke.
Bob Thorton plays Ed Crane, second chair barber in a small town barber
shop. He is a man of few words - life seems to happen to him, and his main
reaction is to smoke silently as he ponders his stifling life.
His wife Doris
(Frances McDormand) is the book-keeper at Niedegerís Dept. store. The couple
invites her boss Big Dave (James Gandolfini) and his wife to dinner. Ed
notices that his wife and her boss seem awfully close - they laugh at the
same jokes, loudly, and have a certain familiarity that leads Ed to believe
they may be having an affair.
to make big money easily (dry-cleaning) comes Edís way, but only if he
can lay his hands on big money to invest in the opportunity. The plot moves
forward from here - murder & death, reversals/ double reversals, twists
and turns of fate, luck, bad luck - itís all there.
The best thing
about the Man Who Wasnít There is the hot shot lawyer Fred Riedenschneider
(Tony Shalhoub) that Ed hires to defend his wife. He is fantastic as a
totally objective, sharp, slightly scummy, venal counsellor. ĎHe told them
to look not at the facts, but at the meaning of the facts. Then he said
the facts had no meaningí. Thatís the kind of lawyer you want defending
you. Heís wonderful at what he does, as long as you can pay...a lot, and
only as long as the money lasts.
The Man Who Wasnít
There is a film-noir in the classic sense - the perfect crime that the
Ďheroí gets away with, bad luck/twist of fate/small overlooked detail and
boom - now he looks guilty for the crime he didnít commit.
The smoky atmosphere,
stylistic details, and gorgeous photography are all good reasons to see
The Man Who Wasnít There. Some people may find it slow moving, and it is.
The film could easily have trimmed 20-30 minutes from itís two hour viewing
time - but the pace of the picture is all part of the Coen brothersí masterplan.
Sit back, relax, take your time and spend a few leisurely hours in another
time, another place. Youíll be glad you did.