The Man Who Wasn't There
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The Man Who Wasn't There
Set in a sleepy Northern California town in the 1940s, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen's The Man Who Wasn't There stars Billy Bob Thornton as Ed Crane, a humble barber who suspects his hard-hearted and hard-drinking wife Doris (Frances McDormand) of having an affair with her boss (James Gandolfini). When a jocular stranger (Jon Polito) breezes into town hinting at the fortune to be made investing in an outlandish-sounding new invention called dry cleaning, Ed hatches a blackmail scheme he hopes will make him rich and get him some revenge at the same time. His plan goes horribly awry when he… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Affectlessness is not a quality much prized in movie protagonists, but Billy Bob Thornton, that splendid actor, does it perfectly as Ed Crane."
‑ Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine
"In this the Coens' sly script is helped no end by Billy Bob Thornton's supremely eloquent performance as the taciturn tonsor, lent terrific support from Frances McDormand as the wife."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"This stylized black and white noir by the Joel and Ethan Coen is meticulously mounted but too emotionally detached and only sporadically engaging."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"As good a film as I've seen this year."
‑ Philip French, Observer [UK]
"Slowly paced for a thriller and with a hero many will find off-putting, this is nevertheless a gripping, unusual and challenging work from the most consistently brilliant filmmakers of the last decade."
‑ Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
"The film holds the interest, to be sure, but more due to the sure sense of craft and precise effect that one expects from the Coens than from genuine involvement in the story."
‑ Todd McCarthy, Variety
"Despite the movie's humor and sense of irony, it takes on a sense of somberness as it progresses."
‑ Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle
"Some mature themes--best for older teens."
‑ Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
"Thornton does wonders within the tabula rasa of words and gestures he's limited to."
‑ Rob Gonsalves,
"It's perfectly, elegantly reticent about its subject matter, as suits both the theme and the tradition of film noir (a type of filmmaking that thrives on unstated motives)."
‑ Stuart Klawans, The Nation
"Joel and Ethan Coen stay true to their bent for dense heroes and neonoir, and to their unshakable conviction that life usually turns out to be splendidly horrific."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"The Coens have resurrected a hardscrabble California of wooden porches and gravel driveways, of rolling, oak-wreathed hills and one-lane roads, and of a restless people whose meager dreams are wrecked the moment money, sex or a bottle get in the way."
‑ Steven Mikulan, L.A. Weekly
"Few outside of Coen cliques paid this nihilistic neo-noir much attention. Perhaps that's its wryest, slyest punchline: To watch Ed Crane is to largely forget him and, upon returning to him, revisit the pleasure of meeting him for the first time."
‑ Nick Rogers,
"Mr. Shaloub injects some much needed energy into the film which otherwise feels long at two hours."
‑ Joe Lozito, Big Picture Big Sound
"You've heard of a 'vacant stare'; now you know what it's like for the person staring."
‑ Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer
More reviews for The Man Who Wasn't There on Rotten Tomatoes

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