In 1940s California, barber Ed Crane blackmails his wife’s boss and lover, hoping to get money to invest in a new business. When the boss uncovers the truth, he attempts to kill Crane, setting off a string of unforeseeable and tragic events.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what’s now showing
Re-watch yesterday proved this to be far superior to the Coen's latest, "Hail, Caesar", which seems garish and bloated compared to the careful austerity of this Black + White neo-Noir. Are the Coen Bros. best days behind them?
Melding a 40s noir stylisation with 50s atomic-age paranoia, the film is not just the most imaginative of the Coen's nihilistic investigations into the theme of accountability, but a subjective character study about a man seemingly content to drift through his own existence. Like A Serious Man, apathy is presented as a kind of hidden bliss; their characters only smited when they attempt to control their own destiny.
The black and white photography from longtime collaborator Roger Deakins is arguably the most impressive of his superlative career. The characters are every bit as quirky as other memorable Coens personalities, with the supporting actors all adding flavor to the final product.
Billy Bob Thornton is exceptional as the introverted barber in this neonoir classic. The subdued melodrama is deliberately paced, and the moody black and white cinematography accentuates the film's intentionally rigid characters. Consider the parallels to Albert Camus' classic novel "The Stranger."
I usually find that voice overs are a very lazy way to tell a script, but this one may be the greatest exception. It's so well written, and it's fascinating to watch it a second time knowing the references to Camus.
This is one of the Coen Brothers more low key and underrated films. Thornton gives an excellent performance here as a timid barber who fits all so well into the pantheon of neurotic Coen Brothers characters.