One of my favorite films is The Man Who Wasn't There. It is done by the Coen brothers in the style of "Film Noir" a term meaning (black or dark) film. It was a common style used in the 50s gangster films and remains popular today. It stars Billy Bob Thorton and a whole cast of great actors as well.
First, Ed Crane is absent indeed in the movie, the film from the Coen brothers. The man that Billy Bob Thornton plays sees the world that surrounds him as a ghost world and nobody notices him at all. Dull and stripped of all emotion, he is the perfect subject for a black and white film noir.
Crane the neighborhood barber is the prisoner of a dull life. Married without love to Doris (Frances McDormand), one day he sees the opportunity to escape his flat and gray existence by becoming a business partner in a dry cleaning venture.
In order to get the necessary funds, he decides to blackmail Big Dave (James Gandolfini), Doris boss the person she is having an affair with as well. But obviously, the plans will not go as planned because it is a film noir after all.
Also, in the film, the purpose of the characters, the story and the decor is only to recreate the troubling atmosphere of film noir. The slow music and the use of black and white film pay homage to the genre. The uses of the light and shadows with the rigidity of Billy Bob's face combine wonderfully to make each shot an image of the epoch. The film location, like any old town in Florida during the 50s, makes it really feel like this is more of a non-fictional story than a fictional one.
The full-length film is not an empty work since it is full of affection on the America of ordinary people that no one really sees, but who still have their place in society. Though it certainly shows the stark reality of their lives, it does not mock them. The characters are neither pathetic, nor crazy. Rather, they are rather the victims of their destiny.
In conclusion,The Man Who Wasn't There is one of the Coen brother's darkest films; it has neither the eccentricity nor the provocation that made their reputation, or the fun that made their commercial success. Humor was not forgotten, nor was the irony of fate.
Billy Bob Thornton is perfect in the title role. His coldness is perfect and he renders his character almost transparent. Frances McDormand is not outdone, while James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) is undoubtedly at ease between a good mood and toughness.
With The Man Who Wasn't There, the Coen brothers persevere in an awesome cinematic noir landscape rather than remaining in the (Fargo) zone and for the better at least I think.