The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

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Another Film Noir homage from the Coen brothers, The Man Who Wasn’t There is actually far more in the tradition of the old school than most of their back catalogue.

Beautifully shot in black and white it also features prominent narration from a rather emotionless Billy Bob Thornton, as well as the usual twists and turns in plot and references to science and pop culture. Thornton gives a typically solid performance as a small town barber who, upon discovering his wife is having an affair with her boss – Frances McDormand and James Gandolfini respectively – decides to gamble all on the mundane and blackmail him for $10,000 to invest in a dry cleaning business. He is discovered however, setting in motion a series of events that causes his life to unravel. This is far from the best of the Coen brothers’ work, but is still an extremely well made, well shot and cleverly written film, perfectly played by a great ensemble cast.

Low key, but haunting.

6/10

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