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Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Serious Man: Review

I have always been puzzled by the Coen brothers' films. Sometimes they come out with some great stuff like O Brother, Where Art thou?, Fargo and Burn After Reading. And sometimes they come up with some really weird shit that people mistake for brilliant masterpieces like Raising Arizona and No Country For Old Men.
Their latest film A Serious Man is one of the 10 nominees for Best Picture at the Oscars and it is one of the weirdest ones the Coen brothers have done yet. But this time, it's one of the weird ones that I'm actually able to understand. And it is quiet a fantastic movie once you are able to get what they are trying to do.
So A Serious Man is about Larry Gopnik, a man who had a relatively good life with his Yiddish family living in America in the 1960's. The film examines his life as it begins a downward spiral almost out of nowhere. Suddenly his wife wants to leave him for his neighbor, he finds out his daughter has been stealing money from him to save for a nose job, his son is a marijuana junkie, his brother who has been living with him is a wanted fugitive, he is being sued for not accepting a bribe from a kiasu Asian student and will be sued if he does accept it, and the Education Board is deciding not to grant him tenure.
So basically his quiet charmed life goes from sweet to shit in a matter of days. But Larry perseveres and tried to seek out the council of Rabbi Marshak, a spiritual leader to help him find the answers to all his problems.
The cast of A Serious Man comprises of mostly Braodway actors which was really great to see. Michael Stuhlbarg was fantastic as Larry Gopnick. Most of the time I watched this movie just to see if his character is going to go crazy or explode what with all the shit everyone is putting him through. Yeah I felt sorry for him but at the same time it's kinda cool looking at how much problems a person can take before finally losing it.
And my God the entire cast were ugly people. Seriously, these are by far the ugliest group of actors I have ever seen assembled in one film. But in terms of the character development for each of them, the Coen brothers did write a fantastic script that's is really funny but incredibly random for the most part.
But there was Amy Landecker who plays Larry's sexy next door neighbor. Damn I could stare into those eyes for hours hahahaha. She played her character in a really one note way with a very monotonous voice. But it was the deep sassy kind of monotonous voice, you know what I mean?
The premise around A Serious Man is very complicated. There were a lot of things that was going on that made no sense. For one, the opening 10 minutes of the film had absolutely nothing related the overall story. And I was left guessing a lot what the point of the movie was even after the credits ended. But when I started to think about it.. the Jewish themes, the problems Larry faced throughout the movie.. it finally snapped in me!
A Serious Man is a modern adaptation of the story of Job from the Old Testament of The Bible. It tells of a man who had a good life and honored God. But Satan made a bet with God that Job wouldn't appreciate him anymore if he didn't have the good life that he had. So God made job's life hell to prove Satan wrong. All over this film, it had references to various stories from the Bible. Larry Gopnik's shitty life- The trials of Job. The bribe from the Asian student- The temptation of Christ. And there is another scene where Larry watches his neighbor sunbath naked which was a throwback to David and Bathsheba.
I'm not spoiling anything about the movie really. Maybe you'll understand it better now that you know what this film was based on. I still have some trouble figuring out the final moment of the film though and how it related to the stories in the Bible. If you've seen it, could you explain it to me please??

RATING: 7/10

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