Review: He Was A Quiet Man by Jamie
17/11/2008, 8:59 am
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Bob Maconel (Christian Slater) is an office worker, a faceless drone in a sea of many. His cubicle is his prison, his supervisor is his tormentor and his moustache is shit. There is one ray of sunshine in his otherwise meaningless life, Vanessa Parks (Elisha Cuthbert) whose smile lights up the office. Sure, she doesn’t know his name and he certainly has no chance of ending up with her but that doesn’t matter that much because Bob won’t be around much longer for Bob has a plan.

Bob is sick of his life and the way others treat him and so he brings his gun in to work with plans to kill his five most hated co-workers before turning the gun on himself. Unfortunately he chickens out and upon returning home is immediately berated for his cowardice by his pet goldfish. Yes, it seems as though Bob’s mental health problems don’t stop at depression alone.

The next day Bob tries again and as he’s loading the bullets into the chamber he accidentally drops one. Whilst he searches on the floor for it, another co-worker suddenly shoots up the office. Bob stands and turns his gun on the assailant after they both notice that he has accidentally shot Vanessa in the spine. Bob is hailed as a hero and is instantly promoted to Vice President of Creative Thinking. Meanwhile he begins to develop a relationship with Vanessa who has become a quadriplegic due to the shooting.

It is from this twist of events that most of the films very, very dark humour is drawn. The remainder displays Bob pretty much becoming a fully fledged human being over night without ever fully managing to fulfil that role. Conversely, Vanessa, who had stepped on many and slept with more just to get where she was in the company, suddenly finds herself lost and helpless, isolated from the world which had once embraced her.

It is a funny film though, tinged as it is with darkness and despair, it’s never really laugh out loud funny. Perhaps the closest it ever comes to this is whenever Gene Shelby, President of the company, played brilliantly by William H. Macy is on screen. Some have said he was under used though I think he played as big a part as the story necessitated.

Christian Slater is also on form here, playing the mentally disturbed Bob with aplomb though he is helped by the make-up department which transforms him into a tired, balding office nobody. It really is the physical acting, though, which makes Slater’s performance shine. Bob never seems comfortable in his own skin, always wringing his hands or grasping his fingers.

Elisha Cuthbert is also fantastic as Vanessa, someone who seems determined to make her way in life even if that means asking someone else to end it for her. She’s paralysed for most of the film and so most of her emotion is displayed without any kind of body language, making the scenes where she’s trying to explain to Bob how she feels that much more touching as the acting is almost all in the eyes.

The rest of the cast is filled out ably by a host of other actors who I don’t recognise, though wikipedia informs me that one of the detectives in the film is played by one of the dudes in the Bohemian Rhapsody scene in Wayne’s World which is awesome. For the most part the rest of the cast are pretty much stereotypes. You’ve got your bullies, your office slut and your deranged janitor. All par for the course.

The last thing I will say about this film are the surreal elements, all brought on by Bob’s own psychosis. There is the aforementioned talking goldfish, a scene in which Bob imagines the office tower blowing up, hummingbirds flitting happily outside his home and the odd effect of the traffic around Bob zipping by him as he drives at normal speed amongst many, many others. They all serve to help the viewer emphasise with how Bob perceives his life and it works amazingly well. Especially the fish. He’s awesome. If you ever wanted to hear a fish say “Fuck ‘em” then this is the film for you. Seriously, that fish swears a lot.

The film does have a downside though and it’s called the last act. Everything seems to change at such a rapid, con fusing pace that it’s easy to lose track of exactly what drew you into this film in the first place until your left with an ending that feels kinda unsatisfying. That being said I feel as though you should at least rent this. Then if you enjoy it you can make it a permanent part of your collection.

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