Socialist Worker

The Man Who Wasn't There: Dryclean partner

by Rachel Aldred
Issue No. 1772

The Man Who Wasn't There is a new film by director Joel Coen. It follows the life of Ed Crane, a small-town barber in late 1940s California. Ed, who talks very little and always has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, is tired of the futility of his life.

An opportunity arises to make money from drycleaning when Ed cuts the hair of a camp, bewigged would-be entrepreneur. The man talks about how drycleaning could transform America, if only he had a silent partner willing to put up $10,000 towards a chain of stores.

Ed is aware that his wife is having an affair with her boss. He blackmails the boss for the $10,000, but the scheme goes badly wrong. The film is resolutely low key and underplayed. It is also a skewed and humorous take on the conventions of the B-movies that characters in the film might have watched. Go and see this atmospheric and funny film.

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Sat 27 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1772
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