The Man Who Wasn't There - Movie Review

The perfect antidote to an intellectual thriller like ‘21 grams’. A movie with more soul per second than anything else I’ve seen from the Coen brothers, and a treatise on restraint. When the Coen brothers make wooden, two-dimemsional cardboards they make them that way not so they can escape from their acting or writing responsibilities, when the make them say their lines deadpan it’s not because they’re looking for some sort of 'quirkyness’, it’s because these characters are really beaten down by life, really tired, bored beyond belief and unable to express any of it.

Ed Crane is a barber who does something one day because he thinks it might help him escape from his life as a barber, the same life that he finds no meaning in. The consequences of his actions however, are far more serious than he bargained for. Yes, he did something wrong in order to get some money together, but as he says, nothing that wasn’t fair. And yet, the people who pay the price pay a price far beyond their crimes to Ed, and just when it seems like everything is going to be okay, Ed’s pigeon’s come home to roost. And yet, as he says, 'I feel sorry for all the people I hurt. But I don’t regret any of it. I used to. I used to regret being a barber.’

Possibly the most understated movie on taking the chances that one is likely to come across. I’m of the opinion that when one takes a decision, it cannot be taken as to what might change in the future. The future is unknowable, and there’s no point trying to chart the course of one’s life from point A to point B. Instead, a decision should stand on the grounds of what it will change in your life today. If years down the line it turns out to be the wrong decision, well, that’s just life, but atleast you can say you tried. Atleast you get hanged for some crime that you actually did commit.

All the actors were so good and it’s nice to know that Frances McDormand can even be hot, when required. Billy rocks! Even the minor characters were stunning. The photography was scintillating black and white, pure poetry. The dialogue was as racy as a great crime thriller, the best of the noir tradition is on display here but with a real twist. and really, where else can someone see a frame like this one?

And let us not even get into what might have been if Creighton Tolliver had done what he needed to. Stunning!

In other news: Saif Ali Khan finally managed to win the Rajat Kamal: he bagged the best actor award for his “sheer ease, subtlety and spontaneity in portraying a complex and demanding role” in Hum Tum. (from The Hindu)

Given that Sudhir Mishra is the chairperson of the jury for the national awards this year, I think it’s safe to assume that Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi will win the best film award next year.