The Man Who Wasn't There - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Man Who Wasn't There Reviews

Top Critic
Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
October 13, 2009
Affectlessness is not a quality much prized in movie protagonists, but Billy Bob Thornton, that splendid actor, does it perfectly as Ed Crane.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
November 7, 2007
The film holds the interest, to be sure, but more due to the sure sense of craft and precise effect that one expects from the Coens than from genuine involvement in the story.
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
November 7, 2007
Joel and Ethan Coen stay true to their bent for dense heroes and neonoir, and to their unshakable conviction that life usually turns out to be splendidly horrific.
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Geoff Andrew
Time Out
June 24, 2006
In this the Coens' sly script is helped no end by Billy Bob Thornton's supremely eloquent performance as the taciturn tonsor, lent terrific support from Frances McDormand as the wife.
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Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
July 21, 2005
Despite the movie's humor and sense of irony, it takes on a sense of somberness as it progresses.
| Original Score: A
Top Critic
Steven Mikulan
L.A. Weekly
September 30, 2002
The Coens have resurrected a hardscrabble California of wooden porches and gravel driveways, of rolling, oak-wreathed hills and one-lane roads, and of a restless people whose meager dreams are wrecked the moment money, sex or a bottle get in the way.
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
March 22, 2002
A paradoxical film even by the Coen brothers' standards: a painstakingly crafted throwaway.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
January 22, 2002
The Man Who Wasn't There denatures pulp, and although I know this was the Coens' intention, it's not a particularly gratifying one. Their movie isn't there, either.
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Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
November 16, 2001
If the drabness doesn't get you, the deliberately glacial pacing will.
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
November 15, 2001
It's a bit of a mess, the work of bratty geniuses with talent to spare, but unsure of what -- if anything -- they're trying to say.
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
November 11, 2001
A noble failure in the canon of America's best sibling film team, a movie that was there just a bit too long.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
Top Critic
November 11, 2001
A beautifully executed film that is remarkable on many, many levels.
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
November 9, 2001
You may be surprised at how long The Man Who Wasn't There sticks around, lingering in the mind long after everyone has met his or her inevitable fate.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
November 4, 2001
An unconventional, unpredictable thriller that Hitchcock probably would have enjoyed.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
November 2, 2001
The movie ... is wonderfully spirited.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
November 2, 2001
A glorious tribute to the splendors of what should rightfully be called the blackish and whitish movie.
| Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
November 2, 2001
A loving tribute to midcentury cinema.
Top Critic
Bob Graham
San Francisco Chronicle
November 2, 2001
The Man Who Wasn't There looks noir, but don't be too sure. The Coen brothers provide the black-and-white. The actors provide the color.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Steven Rosen
Denver Post
November 2, 2001
I felt so thoroughly inside this environment I almost didn't need a story.
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Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
November 2, 2001
It doesn't attain Fargo heights, but it's still a victory.
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
November 2, 2001
The Man Who Wasn't There is so assured and perceptive in its style, so loving, so intensely right, that if you can receive on that frequency, the film is like a voluptuous feast.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Jay Carr
Boston Globe
November 2, 2001
More gris than noir.
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
November 2, 2001
The Man Who Wasn't There is the visual equivalent of single-malt scotch, smoky and smooth and bracing in its simplicity. At the same time, it's sometimes too clever for its own good. The humour is as much parched as it is dry.
Top Critic
Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
November 1, 2001
You'll want to see TMWWT for Thornton's amazingly controlled performance as the tragic dope/dupe.
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 1, 2001
There are goofy flourishes here, the in-jokey, left-field rummies that are the Brothers Coen's stock-in-trade. But this is altogether a quieter, more philosophical sort of endeavor.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
November 1, 2001
The Man Who Wasn't There is all there, artistically speaking, but it never pretends to be a feel-good entertainment.
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
November 1, 2001
It takes a very intense actor to seize an audience by appearing to do almost nothing.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
November 1, 2001
Like its anti-hero Ed, it's soft-spoken and full of fear; it keeps us uneasily awaiting the postman's last ring.
| Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
October 31, 2001
A frustrating experience even by Coen standards.
Top Critic
Jonathan Foreman
New York Post
October 31, 2001
Elegant but cold and meandering homage to film noir.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
October 31, 2001
A lovingly done recreation of the classic, brooding film noir visual style, reeking with atmosphere and gloriously black and white.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
A.O. Scott
New York Times
October 31, 2001
Full of delightful idiosyncrasies and surprising bits of acting.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
October 30, 2001
There's a fine distinction between the cool and the comatose and, punishingly slow, The Man Who Wasn't There repeatedly drifts over the line.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
October 29, 2001
For all its lapses, Man is steadily engrossing and devilishly funny, and, o brother, does it look sharp.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
May 15, 2001
Technically, it's the Coens' most accomplished work to date.