Film Scouts and Newsweek at Sundance 1999

The Minus Man

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Often cinematic psychological portraits are more caricature than human, which is why filmmaker Hampton Fancher's intriguing study represents such a satisfying departure from the norm. Not that the norm is actually the subject here.

Vann Siegert is traveling across the country when he arrives in a rural northwestern enclave and rents a spare room at the home of Doug and Jane. Doug kindly gets him a job at the local post office, where he soon attracts the romantic attentions of fellow worker Ferrin. But as is common to both real life and fiction, things aren't quite what they seem, and it rapidly becomes apparent that more than one person is struggling to maintain an existence that inner demons won't allow. Fancher, who, by the way, is the screenwriter of the acclaimed classic, Blade Runner, makes an outstanding directorial debut with this nuanced and captivating examination of the vagaries of life and the random nature of fortune.

A talented company of actors, led by an invitingly real Owen Wilson, turns The Minus Man into a deftly structured play against expectations. Using the power of a straightforward manner and the especially rewarding qualities of a deliberate and well-conceived narrative, Fancher proves himself as talented a director as he has already demonstrated as a writer. In The Minus Man, the elaborate guise of day-to-day life is never transparent, and the myriad matters we are left to contemplate are particularly rewarding.

- Geoffrey Gilmore

Directed by: Hampton Fancher
Written by: Hampton Fancher, Lew McCreary
Starring: Janeane Garofalo, Owen Wilson, Brian Cox, Sheryl Crow, Mercedes Ruehl
Produced by: David L. Bushell, Fida Attich
Original Music by: Marco Beltrami

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