Tuesday, March 2, 2010
A Serious Man
It's not weird when a movie slips through the cracks, but it is strange to hear more about a movie after its release from anyone with a name. Usually anything by the Coen brothers is announced by trumpet or at least a small amount of fanfare. I can understand why A Serious Man received less to-do than say Burn After Reading, but at this point I'm pretty sure anything they slap together can be considered above average.
Larry Gopnik college math professor watches the world around him unravel as his marriage comes crashing down in an unexpected way. His son and daughter treat him as a utility, his brother can't seem to get it together and his tenure review at college is in danger of being denied because of a bribe attempt by a Korean student. Amidst the chaos, Larry searches for answers from his local Rabbis, hoping that one of them will be able to show meaning through all of life's trials... something that no math equation can solve.
If there is a moral to many of the Coen movies - it is that there is not necessarily a moral or meaning in many of life's struggles. This seems to be the hard point of their recent movies, and A Serious Man is no different. One wishes this movie were maybe as tight as the recent Burn After Reading for example, or even No Country for Old Men, but it wouldn't necessarily be appropriate if it were at the same time. Larry's broiling frustration and confusion are mirrored by the somewhat disjointed and claustrophobic pacing of the film. Not at all their easiest watch, and somewhat flawed by a lack of cohesion, but quite a few humorous and lighthearted moments highlight and lift a film that would otherwise be a pointless downer.