Big screen classics

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Billy Bob Thornton is terrific in the Coens’ canny combination of crime movie and psychological study of extreme alienation.

Image from The Man Who Wasn’t There

USA 2001
Dir Joel Coen
With Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini.
116min
35mm
Certificate 15

The Coens’ film gris centres on a barber in postwar California who feels very little – other than doubts about his wife’s fidelity, which lead both of them into profoundly troubled waters. Less a crime thriller than a meditative, insightful and beautifully acted study of alienation, the film borrows its steely, silvery look – superbly shot by Roger Deakins – from 50s sci-fi movies.