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The Man Who Wasn't There

Where to Watch The Man Who Wasn't There

R
2001

The Man Who Wasn't There is a 2001 film directed by the celebrated Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan Coen), featuring an ensemble cast that includes Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, and Scarlett Johansson. Set in the aftermath of World War II, the movie unfolds in the idyllic, sleepy setting of Santa Rosa, California, but beneath the tranquility lurk dark secrets, petty misdemeanors, and grand aspirations that drive the plot of the film.

Thornton takes on the role of Ed Crane, a taciturn barber who is content to play second fiddle in a barbershop owned by his talkative brother-in-law, Frank (played by Michael Badalucco), who does most of the talking and cutting. Ed’s unfazed disposition and impassive demeanor serve as a foil to the garrulous Frank. However, beneath Ed's seemingly unruffled exterior, he secretly despises his monotonous existence, fueled by an unfulfilled aspiration to break free from the ennui of his ordinary life.

Frances McDormand embodies the character of Doris Crane, Ed’s ambitious wife, who works as an accountant. Her artful performance elucidates her character’s charm, embodying the double standards of a post-war American society, deftly navigating the roles of a dutiful housewife and an established professional with equal aplomb. As Doris becomes entangled in a personal and professional quagmire, it sets the plot rolling, spinning a web of intrigue, deception, and crime that Ed is compelled to untangle.

Seizing an unexpected opportunity that comes his way, Ed embarks on a journey to seize control of his life. This journey becomes the main plot of the film, a neo-noir mystery chronicling a man’s desperate attempt to add some spark to his dreary life, which spirals into unforeseen consequences, something far beyond what Ed had envisioned.

Amidst the main bulk of the drama between Ed and Doris, other characters also come alive. James Gandolfini, as Big Dave Brewster, Doris's boss, delivers a phenomenal performance. His character adds a layer of intricate complexity, humor, and pathos to the narrative. Scarlett Johansson plays Birdy Abundas, a role not as central but equally important, providing an additional dimension to Ed Crane's character, his thoughts, and his motivations.

The Man Who Wasn't There is much more than a mere crime noir. It's an eloquent, atmospheric mystery that blends elements of crime, betrayal, and complex human emotions with a dry, absurdist sense of humor, a signature touch of the Coen Brothers. It derives its strength from its detailed characters, intricate storyline, and robust performances, leading to a compelling narrative that blends tragedy and comedy subtly and effectively.

Roger Deakins, one of the most admired cinematographers in film history, beautifully paints the bleak yet captivating monochrome picture for this film. The exquisite black-and-white imagery imbues every frame with subtlety and starkness, capturing the drollness and obscurity of Ed’s life in rich, shadowy detail, creating the perfect backdrop for the intense storyline.

Carter Burwell's brooding score is another significant contributor to the movie's allure, providing an evocive musical undertone, underscoring the various narrative and emotional shifts in the film.

In essence, The Man Who Wasn't There is a mixture of film noir, dark comedy, and atypical drama set in the 1940s, which employs the most mundane occupations and situations to weave a tale of love, betrayal, ambition, and the pursuit of the American dream. It is a film that will resonate with fans of the Coen Brothers' unmistakable storytelling style and those who appreciate a visually striking and emotionally deep narrative. The viewer is left enthralled, absorbed in the lives of these characters, and immersed in the subtleties of their daily lives. The film's beauty lies in its meticulous detailing, its developing tension, and the Coen Brothers' morbid sense of humor, which make it a quietly intense and haunting masterpiece.

The Man Who Wasn't There is a Crime, Drama movie released in 2001. It has a runtime of 118 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.5. It also holds a MetaScore of 73.

How to Watch The Man Who Wasn't There

Where can I stream The Man Who Wasn't There movie online? The Man Who Wasn't There is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Man Who Wasn't There for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

7.5/10
73/100
Director
Joel Coen
Stars
Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, Richard Jenkins, Scarlett Johansson, Jon Polito, Tony Shalhoub, James Gandolfini
Genres
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