Thursday, October 16, 2008

He Was A Quiet Man

What thoughts go through the mind of a meek office worker in the moments before they begin killing off their co-workers one at a time? We read about these incidents in the paper and watch them on the evening news. It always seems the neighbors knew there was something just not quite right…but He Was A Quiet Man. It’s odd…people in retrospect identify anti-social behavior, yet point to the non-confrontational aspects of the deranged shooters’ personality. This film ventures into the mental machinations of one such man…

Bob Maconel (Christian Slater) works in your typical cube farm. His visible appearance immediately sets him apart as different. His “Members Only” jacket an indication that he is the last remaining “member.” Slightly balding, front teeth that could use a bit of dental work and glasses that have that serial killer look to them. An odd man indeed. What makes Maconel even odder is the fact that he has a revolver in his desk drawer and fumbles with his bullets as he loads the weapon. Close up camera work reveals the intensity of the moment, as Maconel mumbles under his breath with each bullet he loads. He looks from person to person describing and numbering his victims to coincide with their position in his cylinder. The sixth one he has trouble loading…he doesn’t want to admit who it’s for…but he knows…the sixth one is his own.

To fully describe the events that happen in perspective would give away major plot details. So suffice it to say that Maconel goes from zero to hero after dropping his sixth bullet. As he stands up, he hears shooting and observes his co-workers falling one-by one. Maconel intervenes in the shooting spree after an interesting but brief conversation with Coleman. Maconel empties his revolver through the partition, striking Coleman five times. He then goes to the aid of a female co-worker who survived the assault, staying with her until help arrives. Maconel is rewarded for his heroism and works his way through a plethora of issues as the plot slowly unravels. Small clues are dropped throughout the movie to hint at the direction the movie is going, saving the final revelations for the last scene.

The screenplay for He Was A Quiet Man (written by Frank Cappello) contains a strong story-line complete with several sub-plots that are all tied into the main story effectively. Because of the nature of this film, the sub-plots are used to create distractions that reveal small clues regarding the character and conflict. There are several visual cues also written into the script. The characters in this movie are developed to varying degrees, with the main character carrying the story. The characters change with perception changes which I thought was consistent with the plot. The dialogue was also interesting. There were some interesting exchanges between Maconel and his goldfish. The dialogue also included cues regarding the broader storyline. There was juxtaposition in the story, where Maconel is mowing his lawn and listening to music with earplugs. Following the music into Maconel’s ear, we see inside his mind that he has switched places with another character who is in a wheelchair. This mental image of Maconel in a wheelchair in his mind sort of conveyed the concept of mental handicap. It was an interesting use of imagery. This is one example of many that are implemented throughout the film to assist in telling the story. The writing was exceptional.

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