The Man Who Wasn't There

Watch The Man Who Wasn't There

  • R
  • 2001
  • 1 hr 58 min
  • 7.5  (114,363)
  • 73

The Man Who Wasn't There, a 2001 film starring Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, and Michael Badalucco, is a masterful work that blends genres, tones, and styles into a haunting and hypnotic tale of crime, guilt, and existential dread. With its lush black-and-white cinematography, striking composition, and seductive score, the film immerses viewers in a world of shadows, smoking, and secrets, where nothing is what it seems, and everything is connected.

The story revolves around Ed Crane, a barber in a small town in Northern California in the late 1940s, who leads a mundane and frustrated life with his wife Doris, whom he suspects of having an affair with her boss, Big Dave Brewster. Ed is a man of few words, little ambition, and no illusions, who finds solace in his daily routines, his cigarettes, and his fantasies of a better life. But when a mysterious stranger named Creighton Tolliver comes to town with an offer to invest in a new dry-cleaning business, Ed sees an opportunity to change his destiny and becomes embroiled in a scheme that will have tragic consequences.

As the plot unfolds, we are introduced to a cast of eccentric and colorful characters, including Doris' brother Frank, a corrupt attorney who takes Ed's case when he is accused of murder, Big Dave Brewster, a volatile and ambitious man who is not what he seems, and Birdy Abundas, a young and naive bookkeeper who falls in love with Ed and becomes his confidante. Each character is a puzzle piece in a larger picture of greed, deception, and fatalism that leads to a climax of stunning beauty and brutality.

What makes The Man Who Wasn't There so remarkable is its ability to balance an intricate plot with an introspective mood, a dry humor with a somber tone, and a classic noir style with a modern sensibility. The film is written and directed by the Coen Brothers, who are known for their quirky and eclectic films, and it bears their signature mix of irony, cynicism, and whimsy. But it is also a tribute to the films of the golden age of Hollywood, with its homage to film noir, its allusions to Greek tragedy and existentialism, and its references to the works of James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Albert Camus.

At the heart of the film is the performance of Billy Bob Thornton, who embodies Ed Crane with a stoic and enigmatic presence that is both mesmerizing and unsettling. Thornton, who had worked with the Coen Brothers before in Fargo, brings to the role a sense of detachment, alienation, and melancholy that reflects the film's themes of identity, ethics, and meaning. Ed Crane is a man who is not sure who he is, what he wants, or why he exists, and Thornton conveys this with a subtle and nuanced acting that is rarely seen in mainstream cinema.

Frances McDormand, who also starred in Fargo and is married to Joel Coen, delivers a performance that is equally impressive as Doris Crane, Ed's unhappy and manipulative wife. McDormand, who won an Oscar for her role in the Coen Brothers' film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, plays Doris as a complex and ambiguous character, who is both a victim and a villain, a beauty and a beast. Her scenes with Thornton are some of the most unsettling and powerful in the film, as they reveal the toxic and tragic nature of their relationship.

Michael Badalucco, a veteran character actor, shines as Freddy Riedenschneider, the slick and sleazy lawyer who defends Ed in court. Badalucco, who had worked with the Coen Brothers before in Barton Fink, gives a performance that is both funny and sinister, as he uses his charm and wit to manipulate the jury and the audience.

The Man Who Wasn't There is a film that rewards multiple viewings and close analysis, as it contains many layers of meanings, symbols, and references. It is a film that defies easy categorization, as it combines elements of film noir, crime drama, black comedy, and existentialist fiction. But it is also a film that is deeply human, as it explores the dilemmas, fears, and desires of its characters with empathy and insight. It is a film that deserves to be ranked among the finest works of the Coen Brothers, and among the classics of American cinema.

The Man Who Wasn't There is a 2001 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 58 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5 and a MetaScore of 73.

The Man Who Wasn't There
Where to Watch The Man Who Wasn't There
The Man Who Wasn't There is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Man Who Wasn't There for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 58 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (114,363)
  • Metascore