He Was A Quiet Man
Everyone Is A Head Case
He Was A Quiet Man stars Christian Slater as Bob Maconel, a suicidal troubled soul who hates his job, talks to his fish (and listens to their advice), contemplates mass murder of his fellow employees, and terrorism against the entire building. His life has become an illusion in which reality and fantasy are indistinguishable. He carries around a toy black box with a red button on it. His detonator.
Everyone around him treats him poorly. He fantasizes that he is a big hero. “Now people will start paying attention to me!” This while his life is passing before his eyes.
While this is a superb performance by Christian Slater, Elisha Cuthbert does a less powerful job. She needs to take some time out and come back in a truly dramatic role. She is quickly becoming the typecast bimbo chick. William H. Macy has a great role as Gene Shelby, the big boss. He handles his lines like a pro. Purposely, the rest of the ensemble cast is detached. They are all glib, hip, and over the top. But when you are psychotically insecure, these are just the kind of people you see.
The film has some very effective camera work. Bob’s world is certifiably crazy and the camera work brings this out with lots of wide-angle shots, and distorted closeups. The motif of the fish and hummingbirds is classic and is a great addition to the surreality that is Bob’s world. Bob tells himself: “There comes a time when the diseased and the weak must be sacrificed in order to save the herd.” Our job is to figure out who that sacrifice will be. The dark comedy is biting, clever, and more than a little convicting.
Quiet Man is a clever take on the detachment we have with our neighbors. I always think how tragically comic it is when the neighbors of a child molester are interviewed. “He kept to himself,” “He seemed to love children,” and other dead-giveaways. His neighbors don’t engage, just observe. No one ever asks why he loves children.
Similarly, Quiet Man quotes others about the problem of someone who is a bit off kilter. “He was a quiet man.” “He seemed like a nice guy.” So let me get this straight. Since he seemed like a nice guy, we should just leave him alone and assume he is not someone we should mingle with. If, of course, he were a bad dude, we would stay away from him anyway. So he ends up a loser either way, thanks to us.
The film is an expose on how we treat others. There are those in every facet of life that do not measure up to our standards. They do not appear to be beautiful enough for us to rub elbows with. I am guilty of that myself.
Our church has a homeless ministry. Two Saturdays a month we are there with a hot meal, games, a bag or two of groceries, and blankets; and some people mingle for conversation with the homeless that wander in. Last New Years’ Eve I was at the church almost alone late for a New Years’ gathering and a homeless man wandered in. He seemed to know where the coffee was and headed for it. He lingered around probably hoping for someone to engage him. It wasn’t going to be me. I have gotten into these dead-end conversations before with drunken homeless people. Eventually he drifted out and I was free from obligation.
That man could be Bob Maconel.
He Was A Quiet Man is rated R for “language and some nudity.” It has Elisha Cuthbert in it; see above. This is a funny film, but an important one. We all need to view and discuss this film. The story behind the story is what we are all guilty of. This is our story.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Mike attended a promotional screener DVD of He Was A Quiet