A Serious Man
- Release Date:November 19, 2009
- Running time:105 minutes
- Film Worth:$13.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
The Coens' most personal, and Jewish, film to date is expectedly elaborate but also obscure.
According to The Coen Brothers, straightforward action is required when a dybbuk (a folkloric spirit denied entry into heaven) walks into your house. You don't mess around, and you get down to business. It's a lesson learned the hard way by Larry Gopnik (Michael Stulhbarg), a modern day Job whose life is in free-fall. The physics teacher learns that promotion is waiting in the wings on the same day that his wife (Sari Lennick) talks divorce. She's tired of Larry's disturbed brother (Richard Kind) living in their bathroom, and has found comfort elsewhere. To make matters worse, a grade-grabbing student has boxed Larry into a corner, his redneck neighbour is poaching suburban lawn by stealth, and a temptress has moved in next door. If only he could take some action.
In semi-autobiographical territory, the Coens have delivered their most personal, and certainly the most "Jewish", film of their career. It comes on the back of their Oscar winning instant classic No Country For Old Men and the comic hit Burn After Reading. It's also their least obviously commercial film in recent years, with no stars and only a couple of familiar TV faces on the bill. Not that star power has ever been the significant attraction of a Coens film...
A Serious Man is undeniably attractive, though it's certainly a story of a certain flavour and one that's not to all tastes; how compelling it remains is a question of enthusiasm for their determinedly oddball approach. A lengthy segue involving a dentist is as enjoyable as it is inscrutably placed. Yet their sure-fire dramatic timing remains grounded in a bed of superior production that helps cut through potentially alien cultural stylings. Stulhbarg's central performance is beautifully nuanced as he turns Larry from stereotype to character. As expected, there's not a frame that hasn't been hand-placed with intent and purpose, and fans will not be disappointed.