The Man Who Wasn’t There certainly allowed me to warm up to the Coen Brothers more than usual.Its story is that of an innocuous and quiet barber; as life noisily passes him by (he’s only second-in-command in the barbershop, while his wife is having an affair with her boss) he wants to take a chance with funding a dry-cleaning operation. How to come up with the necessary $10,000? Blackmail his wife’s adulterating accomplice. What I found to be the most admirable aspect of the film was its unpredictability, despite how it trails off into obscurity during the last act (the film as a whole, that is). The Coen Brothers have a way at carefully pacing and constructing their film while still preventing it from appearing plotted. And no one can quite deliver the curveballs that Ethan and Joel Coen furtively pitch. I cannot deny the brothers’ multitudinous approach to storytelling, despite the inter-relatedness of criminality and noir-ish dimensions common of their style. Their mark is consistent, but their layout is anomalous. The Coens can take a theme five times and prepare it with alternating ingredients, and arrive at five separate outcomes and flavors. That is not the same as differentiating dishes altogether, but for the person who does not seek overwhelming deviations, this regimen is one worth investing in. The second-most important reason The Man Who Wasn’t There is worth seeing (tied with Roger Deakins’ crisp and smooth black-and-white cinematography), is for Billy Bob Thornton. Although he spends more time narrating than speaking, his somber pensiveness is carried across and gives something for Thornton to lose himself in.
With Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Tony Shalhoub, James Gandolfini, Michael Badalucci, Richard Jenkins and Jon Polito.[Worth-seeing.]