“The Man Who Wasn’t There” by Joel Coen, a noir that captures the soul

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), the Coen Brothers’ ninth film, August 2 at Iris Night takes us back in time in fabulous black-and-white and reconciles us to a fantastic season of American film noir.


Ed Crane (English)Billy Bob Thornton) a middle-aged man, silent and reserved, works as a hairdresser in the shop of his son-in-law Franz (Michael Badalucco). Married to DorisFrances McDormand) doesn’t give much thought to the fact that she finds solace in the arms of Big Dave Brewster (James Gandolfini), its leader. Creighton Tolliver appears in the store (John Polito), who convinces Ed that dry cleaning is the future and reveals that he is looking for a partner to invest in. Ed realizes that this idea can finally change his drab existence and devises a plan. In an anonymous letter, Brewster threatens to tell his wife everything and demands ten thousand dollars in return. Pocketing money, he cooperates with Tolliver, but Brewster, believing Tolliver to be his blackmailer, kills him. During an argument, Ed inadvertently causes Brewster’s death and Doris, accused of murder, is arrested. Famous lawyer Freddy Riedenschneider calls in his defense (Tony Shalhoub), but on the day of judgment she hangs herself. Ed’s life goes smoothly until Tolliver’s body is found. Accused of murder, Ed is sentenced to the electric chair.

Ed Crane, the anonymous and spineless protagonist

The Man Who Wasn’t There opens with a voice-over of the protagonist, who introduces himself to the viewer as follows:

“Yes, I used to work in a hairdressing salon, but I never considered myself a hairdresser. I stumbled upon him, or better yet, married him. The enterprise was not mine; As they say, for me it was just a job. It was a shack no more than twenty meters long with three chairs or jobs, even if we only worked there together. Franz, my brother-in-law, was the head hairdresser. Guys how much he talked. But I don’t talk much. I just cut my hair.”

With these few but lightning-quick jokes, the Coens portray Ed as an anonymous and silent man, a man whose History passes him by without touching him, and whose life flows over him without leaving a trace:

“I was like a ghost walking down the street: I was a ghost, I didn’t see anyone and nobody saw me”.

Ed does not rebel against his wife’s infidelity, does not break the face of his beloved, but, impervious to any emotions, continues, as if nothing had happened, to get a haircut in his son-in-law’s small barbershop. Only once in his life he tries to change his fate and decides to go to the dry cleaners, but Lady Luck punishes him by turning away from him. And when Franz and Brewster find out that he knew about his wife’s infidelity, they can’t help but shout in his face: “What kind of person are you?”

The only person who warms his heart is the cute birdScarlett Johansson), for which he dreams of an incredible career as a pianist.

noir poetry

Like any self-respecting noir, The Man Who Wasn’t There it is crossed by a vaguely dreamy, ambiguous and unreal atmosphere. However, the Coens are revisiting the genre, purging it of nightscapes and entrusting photographs Roger Deakins which, compared to the films fashionable in the forties, uses low-contrast black and white. An atypical noir, if you will, that sends classic dark duty ladies and private cops in cool skins and light guns skyrocketing.

True to noir poetics, fate is the film’s true protagonist. Writer James M. Kaneindeed, in his magnificent novel The postman always knocks twice, it reminds us that fate always lurks, and the silent Ed, unsurprisingly, ends up being fried for a crime he didn’t commit.

Finally, Freddy Riedenschneider’s speech should be formatted like this:

“There’s a guy in Germany, some kind of Fritz… I don’t know… or maybe I think Werner, anyway… His theory is that if you want something to check scientifically… the planets that revolve around the sun, what spots of diesel fuel, because the water flows from the tap… you have to watch the phenomenon.But sometimes just a glance changes the fact, and you don’t know what actually happened or what would have happened if you hadn’t stuck your big nose in. So there’s no point in asking what happened… Just a look changes things. It’s called the uncertainty principle. It seems like a strange idea, but even Einstein took it into account. Science, perception… reality, doubt… reasonable doubt. I sometimes say, the more you look, the less you know. It’s a fact, it’s proven, it’s a fact, and in any case it’s the only verifiable fact. That Kraut also wrote down the formula…

Also thanks to a near-perfect script (written by the director together with his brother Ethan) and tense and balanced dialogue, the film was awarded Cannes Film Festival 2001 (ex aequo c Mulholland Drive From David Lynch). David Donatello 2002 as the best foreign film. Distributed by Medusa movie

The Big Lebowski is a cult film by Joel Coen.

Source link

Leave a Comment