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Anchor Bay presents

He Was a Quiet Man (2006)

"It's all about timing. Nothing worthwhile is done without it. My time will come."- Bob Maconel (Christian Slater)

Stars: Christian Slater
Other Stars: Elisha Cuthbert, William H. Macy, Sascha Knopf, John Gulager, Jamison Jones, Randolph Mantooth, Anzu Lawson, David Wells, Tina D'Marco, Greg Baker
Director: Frank Cappello

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence, brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:35m:12s
Release Date: 2008-01-15
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-B-B- C+


DVD Review

Bob Maconel (Christian Slater) is a meek and mild office worker, a woefully put-upon sort of fellow with ugly short sleeve shirts, thinning hair, and a pocket full of pencils. Add to that the vivid, recurring fantasies of shooting everyone at his workplace or blowing up the building that occupy his day, and that his refrigerator has a laminated "why I did what I did" message for police stuck to it, just in case. His worship-from-afar obsession with beautiful, unattainable co-worker Venessa Parks (Elisha Cuthbert) only enhances his loneliness, as poor Bob spends his days waiting for just the right moment to explode with violent rage.

He Was A Quiet Man takes its title from the comments typically made by shocked neighbors when a random nutjob goes on a killing spree. Bob Maconel's opportunity for titular infamy gets skewed early on, when a strange turn of events propels him into the unexpected role of hero, which includes a cushy new job and the chance for love, unconventional as it may eventually prove to be. But even with seemingly good things going on, happiness doesn't seem like it is meant to be in the cards for Maconel.

Daily life, it would appear, is just a dark hole that seems like a coda to any of those ever-increasing news stories about the latest crazy gunman rampage.

Written and directed by Frank Cappello (he had screenwriting credits for the maligned Constantine), this outing is filled with a short stack of stylized visuals meant to hammer home the smotheringly mundane loneliness of Slater's Maconel. Traffic flies past him in blurs as he moves along at normal speed and his goldfish talks to him, urging him to kill, kill, kill (inbetween requests for food), while William H. Macy—as Maconel's corporate boss—sits behind a comically massive desk. Everything in Maconel's life is not as it appears to, or should, be, and Cappello unfurls He Was A Quiet Man in odd blocks of not-quite-right reality.

Slater—sporting some fake choppers and one heck of a receding hairline—gives the Maconel role the proper sense of rustration to generate a mix of compassion and loathing. He's not always particularly likeable, but with all the grief and aggravation that is dumped on him daily, from a condescending superior to a bitchy office tease, there's a sense of vague understanding as to why he's hinged to explode like Travis Bickle in a Members Only Jacket. Slater makes the percolating craziness easy to watch, while Cuthbert shows a little out-of-the-box range herself, with a character that suffers some horribly life-changing indignities, including a purposely awkward karaoke performance of Midnight Train To Georgia.

It's tough to make the deadly office wackjob a relatable lead, but Slater holds it together far better than I could have expected. And that gun in his drawer is always there to help thin out the herd. He knows because his talking fish told him so.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer isn't always that pretty, Colors and fleshtones fluctuate, though it's difficult to tell if it was some purposeful effect by Cappello. The level of detail is spotty, with frequent doses of grain, and long passages looking brighter and bolder than others.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Two audio choices, either Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 surround blends. The 2.0 is comparatively plain, with the 5.1 mix delivering plenty of well-placed surround cues and some nice deep bass. Voices are clear on both mixes, with the 5.1 offering a wider sense of depth.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Spiral
3 Deleted Scenes
2 Alternate Endings
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Frank Cappello
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The moderately engaging First Look at He Was A Quiet Man (10m:22s) is marred by some poor microphone quality, but still has some listenable talking points from writer/director Frank Cappello and producer Michael Leahy, presented in a mix of behind-the-scene footage in color and black-and-white interview segments. Cappello also contributes a full-length commentary track that—while periodically a bit too self-congratulatory—addresses a number of production challenges. He seems nice enough, but occasionally seems to have a somewhat jaded perception of viewers, methinks.

There's also a set of deleted/alternate scenes, available with an optional Cappello commentary (20m:36s). The block includes a pair of alternate endings, wisely excised in favor of what ended up in the final print, but still worth a peek just to see "what if."

The disc is cut into 20 chapters, with no subtitle options.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

The cover blub proclaiming this as "the bastard child of Brazil, Fight Club and Amelie" is a brash, eye-catching statement that ultimately proves to be just too difficult to live up to. In the library of the dangerously disgruntled working drone genre, He Was a Quiet Man is indeed an often trippy and bold experience, filled with talking fish, unusual romance, a rogue colostomy bag, and a disturbingly relatable sense of being a small cog in a big wheel.

Plus, a neat "I can't take it anymore" performance from Slater—buoyed by fake teeth and thin hair—is nicely done.

Well worth the rent.

Rich Rosell 2008-04-17