[MOVIE REVIEW]This barber knows for sureEverybody gets tired of his run-of-the-mill daily routine every once in a while. For the filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, the humdrum is a tool they use to create turmoil and skew reality to the limit in this simultaneously hilarious and tragic film.
The life of Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) is the humdrum in question. He's a quiet, humorless man, living in late-1940s California, working as the second barber at his brother-in-law's barber shop. The only signs of life in Ed come from the fumes of his endless cigarettes.
His wife, Doris (Frances McDormand), is not so excited about Ed either. Early on, Ed discovers that Doris has been sleeping with Big Dave, the married owner of the town's main department store. If he's upset, he barely lets on, saying only that it "kind of squeezed."
But then an opportunity to end the humdrum arrives, in the form of a con-man looking for money for his dry-cleaning business. Ed is interested, but the $10,000 he needs to invest is money Ed doesn't have.
So Ed concocts a plan to blackmail Big Dave, using his knowlege of the affair between Dave and Doris. But events rarely go according to plan in Coen brothers' movies, and soon Ed finds he has committed murder.
The following day, he quietly prepares to get arrested, but when the police come by the barbershop, they inform him someone else is responsible for the murder.
From then on, a series of crimes ensue, with the guilty party never correctly identified. Reality tangles and the truth confuses.
The film is full of Coen brothers' smart twists, turning each falsehood into a feasible reality. Filmed in black and white, the film often resembles a film noir in style and tone, but there are also bursts of humor and pathos, the subtle and the surreal.
The actors' performances are quite strong as well. Thornton narrates his tale with his low voice, sounding like he does not care much about anything that happens. Along the way, a gamut of characters come into play, each one both broadly defined and minutely realistic, bringing many spices and flavors to the film.
If the story at times confuses, that's all right: as one character says, the beauty of it is that you don't have to know. The film runs until the second week of June at Hypertheque Nada in Daehangno, Seoul.
by Chun Su-jin