He Was A Quiet Man
- Kaleem Aftab
- 29 November 2007
It seems a long time ago that Christian Slater was making a living as the ‘young Jack Nicholson’ in teen yarns Heathers and Pump Up The Volume. In this audacious crime caper, written and directed by Frank A Cappello (No Way Back, American Yakuza), Slater finally gives a leading-man performance that delivers on his early promise.
Opening with a Falling Down-style diatribe against corporate life and American society, the film focuses on Bob Maconel (Slater), a frustrated loser in a dead-end office job who reveals that he’s about to commit suicide and take some of his pesky co-workers with him. The depths of his deranged mind are explored in his acerbic conversations with a goldfish (voiced by John Gulager) but events don’t go as planned and Maconel becomes an accidental hero.
Laced with a surrealism that’s reminiscent of Tim Burton and the Coen’s earliest, gauche filmic efforts, He Was a Quiet Man is full of quirky promise. Things enter a narrative cul-de-sac, however, as Maconel gets romantically entangled with wheelchair-bound Vanessa, the stunning office secretary maimed in a shooting (Elisha Cuthbert). Parallels with Billy Wilder’s The Apartment are explored through an indifferent performance from William H Macy as the corporation’s head honcho and philanderer Shelby (so clearly modelled on Fred MacMurray’s Sheldrake). Ultimately Cappello’s desire to continually spring surprises leaves this flawed but interesting film punch drunk and wobbly as the characters and the plot spirals waywardly into an unsatisfying finale.
Selected release from Fri 7 Dec.