Sunday, January 20, 2008

He Was A Quiet Man: Grade C


He Was a Quiet Man (2007)
Christian Slater, Elisha Cuthbert, William H. Macy. Writer-Director Frank Capello.

Slater gives a superb acting performance as a put-upon office nerd who decides to go postal but just as he draws his gun, another frustrated nerd in the next cubicle beats him to it, killing several office workers. Slater blasts the first shooter and becomes a hero, but the woman he secretly loved from afar (Cuthbert) has been paralyzed in the shooting. The construal of these events is that he saved her from certain death, so they develop a relationship with him as her caregiver. Macy is the self-centered boss in a throwaway role. Some difficult paraplegic/wheelchair scenes are well written and deftly directed. The cinematography is superior, especially the use of color and composition. However, there are very serious problems with the screenplay that ruin the movie’s integrity. There is a 15 minute (it seems) section in the middle where a tedious folk song plays over a montage supposed to show Slater and Cuthbert building a relationship. It is mind-numbing and ineffective; a dead weight that brings the whole movie to a halt. The story recovers, but in the final scene, the suggestion is left that it was all a just dream anyway, which is how a nine year old likes to end a story. Earlier dreamlike sequences surrealistically imposed on the realistic narrative could suggest that Slater’s character was psychotic, but they were more humorous than serious and his emotionally complex relationship with Cuthbert negates the idea of psychosis, making the ending just stupid or lazy. How a single writer-director could be so inconsistent is a mystery.

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