The Minus Man

The Minus Man has been generally hailed by critics as a great film, but, like with American Psycho, that just goes to show that the general audience and the critics' tastes don't always have to match.

Vann Siegert (Owen Wilson) is a drifter who is severely disturbed. Not only does he go about randomly killing people, he does so in the least bloody manner possible (I mean, if you're going to go around killing people it might be worth it if there was some ingenuity involved, like how the Phantom Blot worked). He drifts into Owensville, a small town on the Pacific Coast where he ends up rooming with a lonely couple and earning their trust. He then meets Ferrin (Janeane Garofalo) who has a crush on him, but he's too messed up to have any kind of a relationship with anyone. Instead of exploiting that and risk his being founding out, director Hampton Fancher takes the easy way out by making his relationship with Ferrin a tangent.

The acting by Wilson is passable (I checked this movie out after being impressed by his performance in Shanghai Noon). Janeane Garofalo, as usual, shines. Her different-from-usual performance is what saves this movie from being a total disaster, and provides some hope (not only for serial killers, but also for bad movies everywhere).

The Minus Man has been acclaimed as a look into the mind of a serial killer. This movie provides no more insight about how serial killers work than the chances of them being harassed by imaginary FBI agents (in the form of Dwight Yoakim and Dennis Haysbert) when they pass out (a cinematic trick to fill in holes). The narrative by Vann, which is another cinematic trick to help translate Lew McCreary's novel, is annoying (like we need everything spelt out for in this simplistic scenario). The one trick that does work is Vann's interaction with a state trooper, which is tense but still exhilarating, both for Vann and the audience.

There is very little redeeming value in The Minus Man, unless you consider it as a cure for insomnia. It is an artistic statement (and a valid one, in my opinion), to make a flat movie to depict a character who is cold-blooded, but taken to an extreme, such a depiction of someone fictional only will serve to alienate the audience (and, in my case, insult my intelligence). Flatness juxtaposed with suspense works much better (as illustrated by the state trooper scenes, and which Alfred Hitchcock was a master at). I still highly recommend checking this movie out for the performance of its incongruous cast.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||