If you're the kind of mug who falls for some frail only to find she's playing you for a patsy, and so you stick a shiv in her romeo and put the big frame-up on your dame, well, this is the flick for you. It's got every noir cliché, and it's shot with shadows so sharp and beautiful you're likely to cut your eyes looking at them. Billy Bob Thornton is surprisingly apt as Ed Crane, a barber who dreams of becoming a dry cleaner. Scarlett Johansson is hot as ice playing the girl he chastely loves, and Tony Shalhoub turns in his usual perfect performance as a lawyer whose defense strategy is to cite the Heisenberg uncertainty principle: "The more you look, the less you know." Definitely a must-see for fans of the genre, Man Who Wasn't There is not the Coen brothers' best film, but it's got enough Fritz Lang-style lighting and James M. Cain-style plot twists to make most noir-heads happy. Well, as happy as a noir-head gets.
Director: Joel Coen
Writer: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Producer: Tim Bevan, Ethan Coen, Eric Fellner and John Cameron
Cast: Billy Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, Katherine Borowitz, Jon Polito, Scarlett Johansson, Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub and Adam Alexi-Malle