1949, Santa Rosa, California. A laconic, chain-smoking barber with fallen arches tells a story of a man trying to escape a humdrum life. It's a tale of suspected adultery, blackmail, foul play, death, Sacramento city slickers, racial slurs, invented war heroics, shaved legs, a gamine piano player, aliens, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Ed Crane cuts hair in his in-law's shop; his wife drinks and may be having an affair with her boss, Big Dave, who has $10,000 to invest in a second department store. Ed gets wind of a chance to make money in dry cleaning. Blackmail and investment are his opportunity to be more than a man no one notices. Settle in the chair and listen. Written by
When Ed Crane is at the French piano teacher's studio (Jacques Carcanogues), the actor portraying him, Adam Alexi-Malle, plays the opening of the Piano Concerto #1 by Franz Liszt. This was unplanned and spontaneous during one of the takes during shooting as Joel Coen and Ethan Coen were unaware that Adam was in fact an accomplished concert pianist. See more »
On at least one print the entire first reel is in color instead of black and white. (The movie was filmed in color, then printed in black and white by special processing.) See more »
Yeah, I worked in a barbershop, but I never considered myself a barber. I stumbled into it. Or married into it, more precisely.
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The opening titles cast shadows on the wall as if they are real. See more »
Oh the Coen Brothers, how we cant live without you...
This newest film by the Coen brothers is a masterpiece by all standards in my opinion. Once again the Coens have succeeded in doing what they have done in all 8 of their previous movies, making a simple story more interesting than you could ever imagine possible!
Billy Bob Thornton adds to the noir atmosphere with his superb emotionless portrayal of the barber (of the title) Ed Crane. Essays could be written just on the way he smokes his cigarette! Of course the Coens have recalled other faces from their little black book of actors-we'll-use-again-in-some-small-part. Jon Polito is truly very annoying (in a good way) in his role as someone trying to sell a dry cleaning idea to Thornton (and you never thought dry cleaning could be interesting?). Whereas Tony Shalhoub is a humorous addition as the ridiculously confusing attorney. How can we also forget Mrs Joel Coen, aka Frances McDormand. As Thorntons wife she excels and towards the end shows real emotion and acting prowess as seen previously in Fargo and Blood Simple.
The fact that this film was shot in black and white is a first for the Coens and adds a 1940's atmosphere that no color film could do. The denouement is an excellent study of Crane's life with his emotionless voice over accompanying it.
Overall, this film is an example of what film should be. With the crew and cast an example of what a film cast and crew should be. How This film was nominated for no Oscars is criminal, especially Thornton. However the Coens had their usual Cannes reception to fall back on (Cannes is the only one that counts for REAL movies anyway!). Winning the directors prize (shared) for Joel Coen, although as always with the Coens, where Joel goes, Ethan follows, so the credit is really to both of them.
10/10 In my opinion the Coens best work.
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