The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

There really hasn't been a Coen brothers' film that I didn't like. This one is no exception. Their sharp wit, eye for the mundane, and amazing sense of texture, genre, character, and story are well rendered in their 10th feature film.

With a theme similar to many these days - living a meaningless life - they bring us back to the fifties and have fun with it. We have Billy Bob Thornton narrating and starring as subdued barber. He's Ed, about as short a name as you can get. He is lifeless and he knows it.

It is in black and white so contrast is a big thing visually. This is then mirrored in the characters: Ed is quiet, his working partner won't shut up. Ed is motionless, his wife is fooling around. Everything Ed touches disappears, but it's still like he's not there.

All of the characters are flamboyant and very interesting to watch. The Coens were able to take some of the fifties melodrama and really ham it up in their traditionally unique characters; I mean names like Nirdlinger, Riedenschneider, Birdy, Big Dave, Creighton Tolliver, Officer Krebs aren't heard everyday.

A reflection of our times when it all began - in the materialistic fifties - the decade of opportunity.


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