He Was A Quiet Man **
Directed by Frank A. Cappello
Written by Frank A. Cappello
Christian Slater as Bob Maconel
Elisha Cuthbert as Vanessa
William H. Macy as Gene Shelby
Sascha Knopf as Paula
Jamison Jones as Scott Harper
95 Minutes(Not Rated)
I wish I could have liked "He Was A Quiet Man" more than I did-it's a film with several great ideas, one terrific performance, and moments of true directing talent. But in the end it suffers from being about too much, never focusing in on one concept or idea that wanted to be passed on. And yet there is so much comfort in the truly great performance by Christian Slater that you could almost look past all of those flaws in the screenplay and actually accept this as a good movie. Almost. I read about "He Was A Quiet Man" almost a year ago, saw a festival poster for it, and was intrigued by its premise. I waited and waited for it to come out, until only a few weeks ago I read rumors that it was slated for a Nov. 30 release date. It ended up coming out Nov. 23rd at the very fine Cinema Village theatre in New York City, and has been pulled already for lack of business. Those who are intrigued by this review (and you might be), I'll have to suggest a rental or netflix or whatever you use, because it certainly isn't a waste of time-there are just far better things for you to be doing instead of watching this.
Slater plays Bob Maconel, a lonely and mentally unstable man who works for a company with hardly anyone knowing who he is. When he isn't yearning for his boss's beautiful assistant Vanessa-played by Elisha Cuthbert, last seen in "Captivity," at this moment the second worst movie of the year-he is dreaming of killing five of his co-workers, and then turning the sixth bullet to himself. But somebody beats him to the punch and shoots a whole bunch of people-also accidentally hitting Vanessa-before Bob is able to use his gun to shoot the man. Suddenly Bob is seen as a hero and he becomes famous. He even gets a promotion to VP of Creative Thinking, by his boss Gene Shelby-played by a quickly seen William H. Macy. Everyone seems to want to know him, including Vanessa, whose initial anger at him making her paralyzed for life slowly becomes into a request to him. She wants him to kill her, because she would rather be dead than lead a life confined to a wheelchair.
There are a few angles that writer/director Frank A. Cappello is going for in telling this story. The first is clearly a character study of an unstable man-perfectly played by Christian Slater. Slater actually has a physical transformation to go with his character, loosing some of his hair and doning a pair of glasses that actually make him look a little like a mouse. We get, especially in the beginning, several closeups of him, as he scuttles around his office, trying not to be seen, plotting his revenge. And then we get the love story angle, a rather quickly one between Slater and Cuthbert-clearly they spend the bulk of the film together, and soon Bob begins to wonder if she really loves him or just needs him because they are both outcasts. Maybe its both. Over time the story began to take a few odd turns-it ended up having more potential behind its ideas than actually executing them well. And the ending, abrupt and unsatisfying, just made me feel like I had wasted myself-as if everything that happened in the first 90 minutes was a lie and then the truth had to be shoved down your face. Without ruining too much it is a plot twist that I disapprove of-we've seen its type before, and its less of a twist and more of a complete cop-out. I could have also lived without a talking fish that Slater sees everywhere that there is a bowl of water. A waste of special effects that could have gone towards a rather cheap looking imaginary building explosion early on.
"He Was A Quiet Man" is ultimately a disappointment, only because I know that there is a really a good film buried underneath this rather muddled screenplay. Its worth seeing for Slater's performance though-one that will certainly go under seen, especially in such a crowded fall movie season (despite the most overlooked performance of the year obviously being Michael Douglas in "King of California.) The DVD will be released at the end of January, and Slater fans will certainly want to give this a look see. Otherwise its really a good effort, but nothing much else.