He Was A Quiet Man

He Was A Quiet Man


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Bob Maconel lives a life which many viewers will find all too easy to identify with. Doing boring work in a miserable little cubicle, he's bullied by his boss and despised by his co-workers. Like many people, he fantasises about blowing them all away. But Bob has gone a step further and has started bringing a gun to work. The thing is, he can't quite pluck up the courage to use it. Before he gets the chance, one of his co-workers cracks and does the same thing; and in taking him out, Bob accidentally becomes a hero.

It's an intriguing premise. Naturally, Bob doesn't find that the resultant changes in his life solve all his problems, and a new kind of resentment begins to build in him. There's also a subplot involving a co-worker disabled by the shooting with whom Bob finds romance, and for a while this takes over the story, leaving us wondering when we're going to get back to the main plot. It, too, has a lot of potential - but sadly, the film just isn't up to the challenge.

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Shoddy production values are just the start of it. A beginner's guide to how not to use DV, He Was A Quiet Man is lit like an office throughout, has a painfully intrusive soundtrack, and appears to have been edited by a trained chimpanzee. At first all this oddness might appear to be Technique, an ultra-sophisticated attempt to try and get inside Bob's head, but over time it becomes clear that the crew just didn't know what they were doing. Some genuinely beautiful photography is marred by poor pacing and the derivative choice of certain key images. In the central role, Christian Slater appears to have developed what might be a genuinely interesting character, but he's been directed such that he merely repeats the same little loop of personality over and over again. This can't be taken as a subtle indication of madness because everyone else does it too, helped along by the slow and repetitive script. He Was A Desperate Man might have made a better title, as one can only assume that Slater has been short of offers lately.

He Was A Quiet Man also struggles with the weight of the issues it has taken on board. There's a brave attempt to create a genuinely complex disabled character, but it keeps falling back on cliches, unable to imagine that she might want to live without hope of getting better (despite her clearly having had wider ambitions in the past). Elisha Cuthbert's physical acting works pretty well but, again, one gets the impression that she's been told to do the wrong things, resulting in unintentional comedy. And let's not even think about the sex scene - it's this year's Killing Me Softly.

Half an hour into watching this film you'll be feeling like going postal yourself. Stay calm. Put the gun down. Breathe deeply, because there are a good number of laughs to be found here if you're patient. In the end, though, if you've spent money on a ticket, you'll wonder who's laughing at who.

Reviewed on: 04 Dec 2007
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A man about to go postal at work accidentally becomes a hero when someone else does it first.
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Director: Frank A Cappello

Writer: Frank A Cappello

Starring: Christian Slater, Elisha Cuthbert, William H Macy, Sascha Knopf, Jamison Jones

Year: 2007

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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