Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Serious Man

Movie name: A Serious Man
Year of release: 2009
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Stars: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolf, Jessica McManus, Adam Arkin
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

Synopsis:Joel and Ethan Coen return a year after "Burn After Reading" with another film, this one a more discrete story centered around a Jewish family and community. The film follows Larry Gopnik whose life is slowly unraveling before his eyes. He is a college professor waiting for tenure, one of his students has bribed him in an attempt to pass his class, his wife wants a divorce to move in with a widower, his children are in constant trouble and his brother is scamming and living with him. Larry tries to get some assistance from rabbis, but to no avail. Things just keep escalating and getting out of control. The Coen Brothers have always been able to create very unique stories and populate them with unusual characters in odd situations. Their best films display that uniqueness, from "Blood Simple", "Raising Arizona", "Barton Fink", "Fargo" to their acclaimed "No Country for Old Men". However some of their other efforts are unbalanced and highly stylized stories that ultimately have no bridges towards the viewer, such being the cases of "The Man Who Wasn't There" and now "A Serious Man" (not to mention some mediocre films they have done as "Intolerable Cruelty" and "Ladykillers"). "A Serious Man" is an interesting look at the life of a man, one whose problems simply keep escalating with him unable to prevent or control anything. It's the story of a puppet put through seriously complicated loops. However, no matter how beautifully shot the film is, it bears no emotional resonance, because again the characters feel hollow. As is, it's an interesting sketch of something that needed far more depth.