Parents' Guide to

The Man Who Wasn't There

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Some mature themes -- best for older teens.

Movie R 2001 116 minutes
The Man Who Wasn't There Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 16+

Worth a Third Look

Watch it once and give it a 2 or 3 rating, because of Thornton's incessant turn-off smoking. In a few months, watch it again and you develop unexpected empathy for Thornton. Watch yet again, and all the characters seem so right, and the "justice" downright scary. I'll someday watch again; it's a Coen masterpiece/keeper.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 12+
This should’ve been PG13. There’s three f words and a brief scene of self-defense via a knife that’s bloody but in black-and-white the detail is minimal. Great film though.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (3):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Like all Coen brothers films, this one is filled with stunning images, this time brilliantly filmed in black and white. The Coen brothers have a deep appreciation for film history, and many of their past films have been tributes to the 1930s and '40s genres. With The Man Who Wasn't There, they return to the inspiration for their first film, Blood Simple, the films noir of the 1930s and 1940s. With this film they go further than they have before in submersing themselves into the genre, with little of their usual ironic distance.

Part of the code of the films noir was that evil could not triumph. These times may be just as uncertain, but audience expectations have changed. This movie is so traditional in structure, tone, language, and content that it might bewilder viewers not familiar enough with the genre to recognize that some of the names in the movie are taken from noir classics like Double Indemnity and Gandolfini's performance seems to channel the brilliant, underrated 1940's actor, Paul Douglas. They will, however, appreciate outstanding performances from the entire cast, especially Tony Shaloub as a hotshot lawyer.

Movie Details

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