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The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

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A laconic, chain-smoking barber blackmails his wife's boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning, but his plan goes terribly wrong.

Directors:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
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Popularity
4,491 ( 263)

A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

From Blood Simple to the new The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, we take a look at the offbeat stylings of Academy Award-winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

Dude, let's go bowling

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 24 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Bob Thornton ... Ed Crane
Frances McDormand ... Doris Crane
Michael Badalucco ... Frank
James Gandolfini ... Big Dave Brewster
Katherine Borowitz ... Ann Nirdlinger Brewster
Jon Polito ... Creighton Tolliver
Scarlett Johansson ... Birdy Abundas
Richard Jenkins ... Walter Abundas
Tony Shalhoub ... Freddy Riedenschneider
Christopher Kriesa ... Officer Persky
Brian Haley ... Officer Krebs
Jack McGee ... P.I. Burns
Gregg Binkley ... New Man
Alan Fudge ... Dr. Diedrickson
Lilyan Chauvin ... Medium
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The last thing on his mind is murder.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | Italian | French

Release Date:

16 November 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Barber Project See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£419,609 (United Kingdom), 28 October 2001, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$664,404, 4 November 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,494,849, 24 February 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In his autobiography "The Billy Bob Tapes", Billy Bob Thornton said that he had the flu during the last two weeks of shooting. When the barbershop scenes were shot during that period, Thornton said you may notice in the scenes that his symptoms appear with puffy eyes and he's stuffed up. See more »

Goofs

While driving home (in the 1940s), Ed and his wife pass a 1950 Buick. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ed Crane: Yeah, I worked in a barbershop, but I never considered myself a barber. I stumbled into it. Or married into it, more precisely.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening titles cast shadows on the wall as if they are real. See more »

Alternate Versions

Though original intended to be released in black and white, the movie was originally shot in color. Some countries released the movie in color (e.g. Japan) for marketing reasons. Both versions are released on home media. See more »

Connections

References The Godfather (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor, Op.27 No.2 (Moonlight)
(1801)
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great neo-noir film by the Coen brothers
28 November 2004 | by TBJCSKCNRRQTreviewsSee all my reviews

I haven't seen too many films by the Coen brothers(Ethan and Joel Coen)... in fact, this and Intolerable Cruelty are the only ones I've seen. I decided to see this after hearing many positive things about it, and finding out that it's a tribute to the old 'noir' films of the 40's and 50's. I love noir films, and neo-noir films are often great as well. So I decided to see this film, and I'm am very happy that I did. The plot is great... something that we all can relate to, and yet very recognizable for noir... which is quite impressive, since many noir films suffer from the plot being of limited appeal(the P.I./detective who gets *the* case, etc.). The pacing is excellent. I wasn't bored for a second. The atmosphere of the film is great... very dark and moody, even in the humor. The acting is great... Thornton, McDormand, Gandolfini, Johansson, Shalhoub... everyone is great. Billy Bob Thornton's character is easy to relate to(who hasn't felt that their life wasn't going anywhere, at one point?) and his narration as well as flawless performance is part of what makes the film noir... his character talks very little, but the voice-over and his subtle acting(which includes very little dialog) is great and he carries the movie perfectly. The characters are all well-written... there was only a short period where I didn't entirely understand a characters actions, but this was more because I hadn't thought that much about this particular character than a lack of credibility, character-wise. The story is great... it has some very interesting twists, and it holds your interest and entertains you for the entire run-time of about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The humor is good, but there is fairly little of it in the film(considering that this is what the Coen's are well-known for... well, part of it, anyway) but all of it fits perfectly. Much of it is dark, like the rest of the film. I watched this on a DVD which I borrowed from the library, and when I was about to start the film, I noticed that there were two disks... one in black/white, and one in color. I thought for a while, considered which would be better, but then I remembered that this is a homage to noir films... and, possibly more importantly, the directors intention is to make something that looks as if it could have come from that period where those films were at the peak of popularity... and why would I want to go against the directors intention on a film? That would negate the very point of watching it. All in all, if you're a fan of the Coen brothers directorial style or neo-noir/film noir, you'll most likely love it as much as I did. If not, maybe you can just enjoy the great acting and atmosphere. And if not that, the film probably just isn't for you. I recommend it to any fan of the Coen brothers and of film noir/neo-noir. Fans of any of the actors might also like it. Just be prepared; it is quite dark, and many will not like it simply for that. If you believe you can sit through this film, you definitely should consider it. 8/10


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