Man Who Wasn't There, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

With this recreation of the black-and-white film noir classics of the 40s and 50s, the Coen brothers create a unique, although often bizarre, mystery. Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton), a barber working for his brother in law, hears about a business opportunity from a visiting businessman. The businessman wants to open a new dry-cleaning store and is looking for someone to put up capital. While Ed is skeptical at first, he eventually decides to invest in the store. But to get the money, he decides to blackmail his wifes boss, Big Dave Brewster (James Gandolfini). Ed suspects his wife, Doris (Frances McDormand), of having an affair with Big Dave. However, once the money exchanges hands, things begin to spin out of control for Ed. And he gets even deeper in trouble when Big Dave finds out that Ed is the blackmailer. The black-and-white production sets the mood and really helps add to the movies mysterious overall feel. In addition, the Coen brothers have created their usual bevy of interesting characters. Even minor supporting characters create lasting impressions from one or two scenes. And, like the brothers past works, such as FARGO and THE BIG LEBOWSKI, the story really wanders out of the ordinary. But this time, out of the ordinary fails to hit the satisfaction mark in many ways. Dont look for THE MAN WHO WASNT THERE to appear as a box office success.

As in many of the Coen brothers’ movies, an unorthodox form of justice prevails in the lives of the main characters. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic, as each engages in some kind of cheating/illegal activity. But the enjoyable part of the story is seeing how justice actually does triumph in the end. In keeping with the period reproduction, the film has less objectionable content than many recent movies. However, foul language stands out with 25 strong profanities, including God’s name in vain 16 times, but only one mild obscenity and several moderate crudities. In one violent and somewhat gruesome scene, which earns the R rating, two people struggle and one of them ends up being stabbed in the neck. In another scene, a man visits a psychic for guidance, but quickly leaves when she turns out to be a phony. So, while the film carries some positive themes about justice, frequent strong profanities should keep discerning viewers from seeing THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
USA Films, 9333 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (19) times - Mild 14, Moderate 5

Obscene Language: Once (other)

Profanity: Many (28) times Regular 25 (GD 16, J 5, JC, OJ 2, C sake, C Almighty); Exclamatory 3 (Jeez)

Violence: Few times Mild and Moderate, once severe (man pushed, thrown around and choked, man stabbed in neck, drowned man shown)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Twice (comment about womans breast size, woman attempts unconventional sex)

Drugs: Many times (cigarette smoking, alcohol)

Other: Man sees phony psychic; theme of justice prominent in story

Running Time: 116 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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