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He Was a Quiet Man

Year: 2007
Production Co: Quiet Man Productions
Director: Frank A Capello
Writer: Frank A Capello
Cast: Christian Slater, Elisha Cuthbert, William H Macy
I bet Christian Slater - to say nothing of his fans back in the days of Pump Up the Volume and Young Guns - thought he'd ever play a balding, dowdy lower. And there's an ever so slight embarrassment/rebellion against the character he plays, not quite inhabiting it to its full.

He plays Bob, a cubicle slave not unlike Office Space's Milton, only not funny. Terminally lonely and shut off from life, Bob is wholly enclosed in his own head to the extent even his fish talk to him, egging him on with a hare-brained scheme to take a gun to work and get revenge on the people who've wronged him, from the abusive boss to the beautiful woman who spurns him.

But the day the fantasy turns real, he's on the verge of embarking on his shooting spree when he drops a bullet on the floor. Crawling around under his desk to retrieve it before he's discovered, shots ring out above him and Bob discovers the co-worker who apparently had the same idea and is currently blowing their co-workers away.

After a Monty Python-esque discussion about who among their colleagues should die, Bob comes to the rescue by blowing away the killer.

He becomes an instant folk hero at work and among his neighbours, He's fast tracked up the corporate ladder because of his heroism, under the good graces of the chummy company President boss (Macy) and given the keys to the good life for no reason that being in the right place at the right time. Trouble is, it actually takes everything away from Bob that he held dear in his private fantasy world, and now he's the centre of attention life is decidedly less comfortable.

The only consolation is his budding relationship with beautiful former co-worker Vanessa (Cuthbert). Caught in the crossfire, she's been rendered quadriplegic and forgotten, but Bob eagerly takes care of her and the formerly headstrong, cutthroat girl and man who jumps at his own shadow find a strange kind of love.

Various questions are thrown up from subplots that hint at Bob continuing what the other psycho started and Vanessa not wanting to live in such a state and being determined that Bob finish her off, and the film asks us to consider life and death while the central premise - if there ever was one - veers this way and that.

But it doesn't do so uncomfortably, meandering as much as the inventive visual effects that help tell the story, and the final coda puts it in amongst a small handful of films of a very specific genre I won't name here without spoiling the whole thing. Lynch-like clues pepper the movie, connecting early and later sequences together without making a lot of sense, and the end result is more than the sum of its small, quiet parts.

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