Co-winner of the director’ prize at the 2001 Cannes Festival, THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE is a return to the crime vein that the Coens so richly mined in BLOOD SIMPLE and FARGO. But their latest film has a specific reference: the pulp fiction of James M. Cain where everyday folk find themselves in deadly situations. In 1949, such a guy is Ed Crane (Thornton), a barber in a small Northern California town who works for his brother-in-law and dreams of better things. One day opportunity presents itself right there in his barber chair. When Ed decides to seize his chance for a better life, he sets in force a dark and violent vortex that will engulf everyone around him.The Coens excellent ensemble cast delivers the goods, but the star turn truly belongs to Thornton whose taciturn barber visually echoes Bogey in HIGH SIERRA. (He also delivers the generic voiceover). As can be expected from the Coens, the film is a visual treat, with excellent design and burnished black & white cinematography by Roger Deakins.
The Man Who Wasn’t There
Directed by Joel Coen