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He Was a Quiet Man
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Bob Maconel (Christian Slater) endures another eight hours in a dull grey cubicle. Ignored by his co-workers, Bob feels completely invisible and out of sync with the world. On one strange day he crosses the line from potential killer to inadvertent hero when he saves beautiful Venessa (Elisha Cuthbert). His Boss (William H. Macy) transforms Bob into a new man but his good fortune is short lived when the Object of his Desire asks him to end her life.
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Top Customer Reviews
I loved this movie. It was sad, funny, and unique. Christian Slater is virtually unrecognizable as the meek, middle-aged pencil-pusher whose fantasy life is the only life he has. Kudos to him for taking on a complex and mature role. Elisha Cuthbert gives a fine performance as the unattainable office beauty who loves life more than she ever could have imagined. The movie goes beyond the typical alienated-man-against-the-world story and is quite really remarkable in its sensitivity and raw emotion. This is an unusual movie and an unforgettable one, and may cause you to look twice at that quiet guy in the corner cubicle. Highly recommended.
Slater plays Bob Maconel, a meek and generally submissive cubicle dweller with a real jerk of a boss who is constantly bullying and belittling him. It's pretty easy to see why Bob fantasizes about blowing up the building or making his tormentors pay dearly for their abusive attitudes and actions toward him. Unfortunately for Bob, fantasy and reality have started to bleed in to one another. When we first meet him, he is assigning targets for each bullet he loads into a handgun, then struggling to work up the courage to put his plans into action. On that occasion, though, the timing just isn't right, as he explains to his pet fish (with whom he has several conversations throughout the film) when he returns to his rather ramshackle home that night. This theme of living life in a fishbowl is further brought home by a lot of up close and personal camera shots of Bob with a fishbowl-like lens and some great shots of Bob plodding along while everyone around him zooms along at a much faster pace. The only small breath of fresh air in Bob's world of quiet desperation is co-worker Venessa Parks (Elisha Cuthbert). She is the only person who ever speaks to him without a trace of malice.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
My disappointments: I don't like the fire hose volume of profanity and don't believe it represents real life as much as those justifying it want to pretend it does. And there is one rather disturbing sex scene that could have been handled differently to make the same point. These kinds of scenes aren't "real" and certainly can't compete with movies made to arouse. So, why have them?
Christian Slater is terrific as the deeply disturbed Bob Maconel. He is a cipher and used as an office whipping boy by a couple of low-level low-quality bullies passing for managers. Like many office drones, he dreams about a woman at the office. His dreamgirl is named Vanessa who notices the ceramic bobble hula girl he keeps on his cubicle, but she is too absorbed in her blazing rocket of a career to even pay attention to real people in anything but a passing manner. But she has a smile that lights up a room, as the movie keeps noting.
Bob takes his lunch on a spot where he has a view of the company skyscraper and has a little plastic box with a button so he can fantasize blowing the building to kingdom come. More disturbingly, he has a real gun with real bullets that he ritualistically loads by naming who each bullet is for. But he hasn't been able to bring himself to pull the trigger. During one performance of his rite he drops a bullet and while he is on the floor a gun is fired and people start dropping while others scream. An old man has carried out Bob's fantasy and they strike up a conversation that ends up with Bob emptying his gun in the old man.
The rest of the movie teases out how Bob is treated as a hero, is promoted, and his connection with Vanessa who was made a quadriplegic in the shooting (the shooter thought she was someone else). So, Bob has this secret that others approach but no one will really confront. Even the company shrink appears only to be be circling the core issues.
William H. Macy plays the CEO, Gene Shelby. Vanessa was an up and coming VP who reported directly to him and their relationship combined the very personal with the professional. Gene isn't really a bad guy, but just a ordinarily flawed guy running a company. Others project their own fantasies and frustrations onto him and that is a quite realistic aspect of the film. One funny aspect of the film is that Gene's desk is made up of multiple tables that are, together, somewhat larger than Rhode Island.
The way the movie is filmed handles the madness and melting realities very well. I had not seen these kinds of visual symbols before and thought they were quite effective.
Why some call this a comedy or a black comedy is beyond me. Yes, there are some comic moments, but the overall intent of the movie is serious. True, Bob carries on mutual conversations with his goldfish, but what do you expect such an isolated man who has drifted into madness to do?
I think this is a very effective movie and recommend it for the right audience (keeping my caveats in mind). For me, it was a Christian Slater tour-de-force.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
Bob Maconel (Christian Slater in fine distorting makeup) is a nerd, an ordinary geek who checks numbers form his sterile cubicle in a massive corporation, heckled by the 'fast guys' like Scott Harper (Jamison Jones). He loathes his life, his crumby house and unkempt lawn, and most of all the loathes the people with whom he works - except for one Vanessa (Elisha Cuthbert) who has a 'smile that lights up a room', but pays no attention to the geeky Bob. Bob is deranged, talks to his goldfish at home (and they answer back!), and plans to kill the most offensive of his fellow workers. But in the adjacent cubicle there is a like mind who beats him to the show and one morning opens fire killing five people and wounding Vanessa with a bullet to her spine that leaves her paralyzed: Bob serendipitously uses his own gun to kill the assailant and becomes a hero for the corporation.
Though Bob is unchanged in appearance or outlook he is elevated to VP of Creative Thinking under the head boss Gene Shelby (William H. Macy). He visits Vanessa in the hospital, suffers her tantrum at being a quadriplegic, but finally is called back to her bedside and sweet-talked into being her hero life-saving guardian - and more. Once Bob feels needed and perhaps 'loved' by Vanessa he begins to change, only to have unfortunate reminders of reality enter and alter his life yet again.
Though the subject matter is rather terrifying, Cappello elects to present this tale as black humor. In the hands of less competent actors it would like have been a dud, but with Christian Slater's finely nuanced performance the film takes on a powerful sheen. The line between madness and normalcy is a thin one indeed and there are many disturbing lessons to be gained from watching this small but well-done film. Grady Harp, February 08
HE WAS A QUIET MAN was written and directed by Frank A. Cappello. In light of the various public and school shootings that have happened in the past few years, the questions that HE WAS A QUIET MAN raises are particularly relevant, such as what causes a seemingly normal man go over the edge and take the lives of other people?, can such a person be saved?, and is there any way to stop their actions before they happen?
The overall tone, mood, and setting of the film is very minimalistic. The acting is well done, especially Christian Slater who offers one of the finest film performances of his career as the troubled Bob Maconel. Slater is typically known for playboy or bad boy roles, but is completely unrecognizable as Maconel. Also noteworthy are Elisha Cuthbert as Venessa Parks who gives a star performance by using only her face and pinky.
Even though I enjoyed the acting performances and some of the cinematography, I just found HE WAS A QUIET MAN to be an average movie. It is a decent drama with some fine acting and explores some important issues, but I just didn't find it all that compelling. It's a must-see movie for any Christian Slater or Elisha Cuthbert fans, but most others probably won't find it as compelling and may be turned off by the rather dark and bleak ending.
The DVD offers a featurette entitled "First Look at HE WAS A QUIET MAN", deleted scenes and alternative endings, an audio commentary with director Frank A. Cappello, and the theatrical trailer. I found the deleted scenes and alternative endings with the director's commentary to be most interesting. The film could have turned out much differently.
This film is a cross between many movies we have seen in not so recent past. I keep thinking about "The Machinist" film about a man who is so delusional that he is unable to distingish his thoughts from reality. In this role, Slater brings performance that is absolutely amazing. Even his physical appearance makes him a whole new persona. I was mesmerized by the film but the ending left me wondering. That is until I saw film extras and realized that director himself had difficulty deciding on the ending. There were three alternate endings.
Performance and story are compelling. Fans of the actor William H. Macy will be delighted too. While this film may not have a mass appeal of box office smash, it is definitely worth watching.
What this film does not do is wrap everything up in a neat package in 100 minutes. Nor do I think it is supposed to. The film and its story is very complex but not in a confusing way. What I mean is that when you walk out of the theater, the film literally continues in your head for the next 24 hours. As you will process what you saw and experienced and remember details that you might have missed or overlooked in the theater and you will experience what I call "Ah Ha" moments of understanding. I recommend that you see it with a friend that you can talk to about it over the next several days and compare impressions and observations with. Frank Cappello who wrote, directed, co-produced and even wrote the music for the movie has given his best work yet. The cast and crew responded in kind and created a real work of cinematic art for us to enjoy. If you enjoy a film that is a bit quirky, contains lots of nuance, makes you think and at the same time may expose a little of your own insecurities, I highly recommend the film as a must see - not just once but several times.