Review: A Serious Man

A Serious Man | Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009

One of the things that we as humans have always asked ourselves is “why, if there is a god, do horrible things happen.” We tend to ask this question more when we are actually going through something horrible. Some people try to find an answer, but to no avail.

A Serious Man, from the wicked minds of the Coen Brothers, takes on this subject. The movie follows Larry Gopnick (Micheal Stuhlbarg), a college professor that lives an ordinary life. One day a student he failed tries to bribe him, which could end his career, and his wife decides to leave him. Things only get worse from there as his brother is wanted by the law, his children don’t listen to him, he is near financial ruin, and everybody tells him to talk to the rabbi.

This is not a movie with a straight story that will wrap up in a nice conclusion. Because of this I didn’t really want to write a review because I feel like I need to watch it a couple more times before finally coming to a conclusion. However, something compelled me to write about it. This is an abstract movie that will leave many people scratching their heads. Is it about how our decisions affect how the guy up above will handle our lives? About stayin true to our take on religion and not let tradition decide what we do? or is it just about a guy going through a rough patch? I’m hoping that repeat viewing will help answer the question, but as of right now it reminds me of the Neil Simon’s play “God’s Favorite” about a deeply religious man who has to suffer a lot to prove that he believes in God after the devil dared God to do so. While watching this movie I thought that God was just toying with Larry, his brother and his son

This movie is much better than their previous two. It shows that this is a more personal project through the dialogue, the scenes everything. Every single member in the cast gives a great performance, which is rare for a movie filled with mostly new comers. Carter Burwell’s score and Roger Deakin’s cinematography are also quite amazing, and only make a haunting ending more haunting.  See it, but don’t expect to understand it right away.

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