Amazon Holiday

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Serious Man

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: A man's wife asks him for a divorce because she's fallen in love with their good friend, and right when he thinks things can't get any worse, they do, because Jewish people are cursed.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus, Peter Breitmayer, David Kang, Adam Arkin, Amy Landecker, Alan Mandell, Simon Helberg, George Wyner, Allen Lewis Rickman, Yelena Shmulenson, Fyvush Finkel

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketProceed with Caution. This parable will mean more to people who are Jewish than it will to the rest. But just because you're Jewish doesn't mean you'll like it, and just because you're not Jewish doesn't mean you won't.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: To answer that, I must ask you this: Are you the kind of person who usually laughs at a Coen Brothers dark comedy? And if you say yes, because you laughed at Fargo, I would ask you to re-examine your answer, by eliminating all the times you laughed because someone had a funny Minnesotan accent.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: Not if you're Jewish, because if you are Jewish, you will already know that life is meant to be filled with pain and agony, and there's no need to cry about it.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: As is often the case with Coen Brothers movies, this one could well get an award for Most Overrated Movie of the Year. Especially since, much like with Pixar movies, most critics fear they would lose their credibility if they gave it anything less than a glowing thumbs up. I just happen to have a lot less fear than most critics.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: A cast of unrecognizable faces act like they've been making Coen Brothers movies for years.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: By far the best thing about any Coen Brothers movie is their signature style. The stills from this film could go up in a gallery next to stills for Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, or even Burn After Reading, and you would instantly recognize that it was one artist (made up of two people) who shot them all.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: This is where most of you will be lost. From moment to moment the emotions make sense and build on each other, but what it is all building toward, I'm not sure I could tell you. And to confuse (or clarify) matters more, there's the opening scene, which is rich and textured and disturbing, saying everything and nothing, as it stands alone, with no need for the feature length story that follows it. This brilliant scene could have won the Academy Award for Best Short Film, if only they hadn't tagged a 2 hour movie on the end of it. But how it relates back to the rest of the movie is speculative.

Q: Where can I see the trailer?


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Reel Whore said...

I usually don't read reviews until I've written my own, but this one had me stumped.

It drew me in from the beginning. I cared about the characters. I was curious to see how it all plays out. Next thing I knew the credits plaque pops onscreen and I was like Huh?! I'm still trying to sort it all out.

It's a good movie, but I can't really explain why.

Monique Elisabeth said...

I was discussing it with some friends who thought that maybe (because of the opening scene) the Jews became cursed as a people, and the Serious Man shows us how that curse shows itself in "modern" times-- or at least in the 60s. One of my friends thought that it was to say that if you're Jewish you will always be racked with guilt because of the curse. It was a lot of speculation.

Also, I thought that maybe the new man (Fred Melamed) was supposed to represent the modern day Dybukk?

Reel Whore said...

I thought Sy was a dybukk as well, but he only appeared in that one dream. I actually wondered if the couple in the beginning tale were Larry & Arthur's ancestors and that's why they were plagued with such bad luck.

The more I think about it, the more I believe it's more of a statement on modern America. For all the good and wealth that surrounds us, we continually focus on the negative and what we don't have. It's like what the two rabbis tried to explain to him; look at the bright side, but by his very nature he couldn't.

Think of his lawyer and Sy. They had hobbies; the lawyer fishing, Sy golf (& Larry's wife), but Larry had only work. He wasn't a wine drinker or a record collector. When did he ever take pleasure in his life?

Sorry, I'm on a train of thought now. It might be a good time to bang out my review.

Monique Elisabeth said...

Sounds like it's going to be a good review!