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Coco Forsythe

Published December 7th, 2007 | by Coco Forsythe

He Was A Quiet Man Review

Classification: 15 Director: Frank A Cappello Rating: 3/5

Bob Maconel (Slater) is the sort of dweeb that we all know and ignore. Baldy, lank-haired, bespectacled rodent-teethed and sporting a fetching Hitler-tache, Bob spends his days in his cube at work, disregarded by his colleagues, bullied and put upon by his superiors, and dreaming hopelessly about Vanessa (Cuthbert), whose smile lights up his workplace. At night he goes home to his goldfish, eats his microwave meal and fantasizes about the day when he will blow up the office and then kill himself. After promising the goldfish that this is, finally, the day, Bob is quite literally loading his gun when he hears shots. One of his co-workers has got there first…

Vanessa has been shot, but is still alive, and in order to stop her being killed Bob empties his gun into the killer and becomes an accidental hero. Suddenly Bob is a hero. Everyone wants to know him. Men want to be his friend; women want to sleep with him. Bob suddenly finds that he has a social life. He is promoted at work – given his own office and a company car that, ironically, used to belong to Vanessa. His boss, Mr Shelby (Macy), explains that Vanessa is now a quadriplegic – the bullets damaged her spinal column and she won’t be coming back to work. Horrified, Bob goes to see her.

Not surprisingly, Vanessa isn’t too thrilled to see him, but then decides he can be of use to her; she wants to kill herself and he can help. To celebrate, they spend the evening together before Bob takes her to the station where she plans to wheel herself under a train. Bob can’t go through with it though and, grateful to him for having saved her life twice, Vanessa starts going out with him. But Bob still has issues…

He Was A Quiet Man (the title refers to those comments by neighbours, after they discover that kindly Mr Jones at number 23 was actually an axe murderer) is the role of a lifetime for Christian Slater, who almost disappears into his character. It’s hard to believe that this watery-eyed dork is Clarence from True Romance. Bob is quite possibly the most ineffectual man you could wish to meet – he just lacks a cruel mother to make the picture complete.

And yet Bob actually isn’t, in the world of the film, any worse that the dreadful people who surround him. It’s a excoriating portrait of corporate culture; happy hour at the bar over the road, a few rounds at the driving range at the weekend, pointless, demeaning work. The film is no gentler on the treatment of the disabled. When Vanessa returns to the office in her wheelchair, her former colleagues talk down to her as if she was a toddler. Director Frank A Cappello frames the film to exaggerate Bob’s sense of alienation in the world. Bob trudges slowly out to lunch as speeded up cars roar past him. He is often shot in extreme closeup, sweating, with a particularly attractive pimple glowing on his forehead.

In the end, though, the film fails to say anything terribly original about alienation and the modern world, other than that it’s enough to drive some people crazy. And I think we knew that. A moderately entertaining oddity.


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