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A cold-blooded serial killer floats around the country and chooses his victims from people who complain about their lives and indicate a willingness to be killed. His murders are introduced with the killing of an asthmatic junkie. The killer settles into a seaside rooming house run by an unhappy married couple and waits for his next victims to unveil themselves. Dream cops plague his nights, while plotting his murders. Meanwhile, he also starts a relationship with a postal clerk. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"The Minus Man" is the sort of film whose success depends on the performance of the central actor. After viewing, it seems impossible to imagine any one else playing the lead. Owen Wilson is a significantly talented actor: he brings a realistic sense of detail and ambiguity to the character of Vann. It is clear from the beginning that this young man is supposed to be likeable. Wilson conveys almost angelic charm, yet he is also capable of a calculating, knowing quality. The latter is what gives the character resonance. It makes the film work. The viewer is presented with a serial killer who is not only aware of what he is doing, but has a certain subconscious understanding of why.
This film is a study of one suggested reason for a serial killer's actions: he kills for control, to have an effect on the lives of others. By taking away--a "minus" effect--he adds something of his own. The idea itself certainly isn't new, but the character's illustration of it in this film is something unique and fascinating. There is a memorable, chilling scene in which Vann joins a search party for one of his own victims. Later, at a memorial service, he ponders the tremendous influence he has worked upon the inhabitants of the small town, and how, with just a few, words, he could change things yet again. In another scene, Vann decides against murdering an artist who has invited him home: her paintings reveal a pre-occupation with suicide and death, so his actions would have no real effect on her.
Other actors here are very fine: Brian Cox, Mercedes Ruehl, Meg Foster, while Jeanane Garofalo gives a subtle and endearing picture of a lonely young woman.
You may not discuss it for days afterward, but "The Minus Man" is well worth the time.
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