The Man Who Wasn’t There * Joel and Ethan Coen * 2001

“Murder, blackmail and dry-cleaning. Enter the mind of a barber”. Of of the better taglines of late, what do you think? A new film by the brothers Coen who came in the spotlights with their films “Fargo” (1996), “The Big Lebowski” (1998) and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000). Not the most typical films with a pleasent sense of humour and strange stories. The three films are not much alike and I can’t compare “The Man…” with any of them either. What IS the same as with especially “Fargo” is that this isn’t a comedy in basis, but still “The Man…” is very funny at times.

Anyway, the story in short is as follows. Ed (Billy Bob Thornton) has lived his entire life on the background. He married his wife Doris (Frances Macdonmand, the policewoman in “Fargo”) only a few weeks after having met her totally drunk at a party (which he doesn’t like). She thought it was “appropriate” and she liked it that he doesn’t talk much. Having a not too firy relationship the two stick together just because it has been like that for years. Doris works for a man with a large warehouse doing administration and her boss and his wife are friends of the house. Ed works at the barbershop of a brother of his wife who got the place from his father. Ed doesn’t like the work much, but heh, he has been there for years. Then in the shop, Ed meets a crook (played by Jol Polito) who was dumped by his potential partner for starting a dry-cleaning company (the story plays in the 1950’ies, nobody heard of dry-cleaning). Ed thinks that this could cheer-up his life a little, so he thinks of a plan. He blackmails his wife’s boss, because he knows these two have an affair. Big Dave (James Gandolfini) asks for advice from Ted he and he thinks that Tolliver (the crook – Jon Polito) is the blackmailer, so Tolliver’s original partner was Doris’ boss and Ed’s ‘friend’! Big Dave uses money from his business which actually is owned by his wife’s father and uses Doris for the administrative trick. Later he finds out about Ed, Ed accidentally kills Big Dave and Doris is suspected and caught. Anyway, the story keeps twisting and twisting and keeps interesting for the full two hours.

A funny thing is that the film is in colour when you rent it and black and white when you buy it. It is placed in the 50’ies with ever-smoking men and over-typical women and Ed is main character and voice-over.

Another wonderfull film by the Coen brothers.

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