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Billy Bob Thornton, Scarlett Johansson fryzjer z problemami
~ mnemmosyne
The Man Who Wasn’t There
dir. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen / USA, UK 2001 / 116’
subtitles: Polish


Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, James Gandolfini, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Badalucco, Jon Polito, Richard Jenkins


Cannes IFF 2001 – best director, BAFTA Awards 2002 – best cinematography, London Critics Circle Film Awards 2002 – actor of the year, screenwriter of the year

Film description

The Coen brothers approach film noir more systematically than any other genre, beginning with Blood Simple, the title of which comes from Dashiell Hammett’s novel Red Harvest, to their adaptations of stories by Hammett (Miller’s Crossing is an adaptation of The Glass Key) and Raymond Chandler (The Big Lebowski is an adaptation of The Big Sleep). The Man Who Wasn’t There is their paean the third giant of noir, James M. Cain, whose stories are frequently involve the intrigues of cuckold husbands or wives.

The Coens play with two key elements of noir, the first being guilt and punishment. In noir, fortune is ruthless and even a miniscule mistake sets in motion an unrelenting torrent of events that usually end tragically. The Coens subvert this paradigm making each death innocent because someone else committed the sin.

The other element of noir transformed by the Coen brothers is the psychological construct of the lead. The classic noir hero is mired by his greed, desire or other passion. Meanwhile, in The Man Who Wasn’t There, Ed Crane is different – he is a balanced, calm, and passive man, even able to stoically observe his wife’s affair.

Until A Serious Man, this was the Coens’ most enigmatic film, though one still in comport with their oeuvre, where the main theme is human foolishness that sets swinging fortune’s dormant hammer.

Michał Chaciński

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