The Minus Man

by

comment

The most interesting thing about director Hampton Fancher’s film The Minus Man is the title. But the interest is fleeting, as is the strangeness of its main character, Vann Siegert (Owen Wilson), the all-American nice-guy psycho who drifts in and out of small towns and sleepy suburbs "subtracting" more-or-less deserving members of the community.

The other players — garden variety manic-depressive personalities — stroll through the set like six characters in search of an absurdist script whose point is kept from them like some big secret. Thus, the dialogue lines exchanged matter-of-factly between the people Vann meets (masochistic husbands, suicidal wives, worn-out postal clerks and their dysfunctional daughters) or those who live in his imagination (a surreal detective duo) slow down even more an already halting film.

In its desperate attempt to explain as little as possible ("Vann is nothing," Fancher says; "he is the man who fell to Earth"), the film becomes a reflection of its own nothingness, a bland cross between The Young Poisoner’s Handbook (minus the tension) and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (minus the violence). The fact that The Minus Man relies entirely on Wilson’s empty character to make a few simple points — that monsters have a human face, that small towns are not always peaceful, that the twilight zone is but an extension of reality — is not a plus either.

Like his psycho-character, Fancher (who wrote and produced Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner) plays a dangerous game of subtraction with his first film: Lynch without the darkness, the absurdists without the menace. In the last scene, The Minus Man catches up with its lost tempo — too late, though, for anyone to care. Maybe Fancher shouldn’t have waited so long or tried so hard.

E-mail comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.