Did you ever get home from work and think that this isn’t how humans should live? Did you ever think to yourself that something needs to change? That something needs to change not just in your life but in our society in general. So, this movie takes that premise and takes it to the extreme. He Was a Quiet Man is a psychological black comedy about an office worker slowly going crazy and considering shooting everyone at his job. It uses humor to defuse these serious issues and talk about them in an unthreatening and even entertaining way.
Mental health is on the decline in almost every country in the world and the US is not an exception. Add to this gun laws and a huge number of weapons already in circulation and you got yourself a ticking timebomb. This isn’t the first time we had the opportunity to see a movie discussing these topics. Two nineties classics, Falling Down and Office Space, already offered their thoughts on the issue. Moreover, all three movies feature Average Joe protagonists descending into madness. He Was a Quiet Man adds a bit right-leaning twist to the formula but it’s nothing too pervasive or damaging.
Loneliness is the silent killer exasperating mental health issues and driving them to the point of breaking. Add to this midlife crisis and this feeling you’re stuck in a rut and a picture of your average office shooter emerges. The star of the show was Christian Slater giving one hell of a performance. He not only looked the part, he acted the part along with William H. Macy and Elisha Cuthbert. The story is not afraid to take things to the extreme. And it also offers a couple of surprising twists that organically drive the plot forward. It’s just quirky enough not to be annoying.
And the script is just mwah. It’s just fucking perfect constantly firing at the total lack of understanding of everyone involved what’s actually happening. Perhaps this is best summarized by the conversation Bob, our protagonist, has with a blonde in an elevator. She said one sentence that had me cracking up for days: Now maniacs will think twice before going crazy. Everything we’re seeing in this movie is the consequence of the constant dehumanization in our society. This dehumanization is driven by late-stage capitalism which is just an extension of the tribal system of values.
He Was a Quiet Man also offers a very authentic story, especially towards the end. Moreover, there are no compromises or emotional jerking. In this sense, it reminds me of another Christian Slater black comedy Very Bad Things. So, if you’re looking for movies to watch after this one I highly recommend that one.
Director: Frank A. Cappello
Writer: Frank A. Cappello
Cast: Christian Slater, William H. Macy, Jamison Jones, Cristina Lawson, John Gulager
Fun Facts: The DVD and Blu-ray versions of the movie feature not one but two alternate endings. While the first one tackles the shooting in a different way, the second one is a continuation of that stream of events.