Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A Serious Man [2009]


A Serious Man might not be the Coen brothers’ best film – that title is still a fight-out between Fargo and No Country for Old Men, but it is one of their most matured works, and might even be their most heartfelt movie till date. It abounds in malaise, hopelessness, infidelity, delinquency, despair, bigotry and a dysfunctional family, and is replete with the kind of absurdism, ironies and nihilism that are, well, quintessentially Coen-esque; further, the jet-black humour might at times even tear through your skin and leave you wincing. Yet, this suburbia tale of a Jewish physics professor, whose life comes crumbling down in the week preceding his son’s Bar Mitzvahs – his wife announcing her affair with his pompous colleague and emotionally arm-twisting him to move out of his own house, dealing with his unemployed brother, his son having serious disciplinary issues at school, his irritable daughter stealing his money in order to get a nose job, his chances of tenure at the university being sabotaged by an anonymous miscreant, sharing dope with his voluptuous neighbour and having to tolerate a series of ludicrous and idiosyncratic rabbis – felt, in an odd way, a very personal film for the duo. The acting is pitch perfect throughout, with Michael Stuhlbarg’s being the standout performance as the sympathetic family man (a rarity in the Coens’ oeuvre) at the wrong end of a series of deadpan cosmic jokes.









Directors: Ethan & Joel Coen
Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire/Ensemble Film
Language: English
Country: US

9 comments:

ZC said...

You seem to have a preference for the Coens' dramatic work over their comedies. Is this the case? I'm curious. Their dramas are worthy of huge appreciation, I agree, but I find the comedies are helpful in offsetting the nihilism present in nearly all of their films. (Some people are more affected by a film's mood than others.)

Anonymous said...

I'm with you that Fargo and No Country For Old Men represents the Coen Brother's best films. A Serious Man didn't do much for me. I fall under the category that ZC wonders about you. I seem to enjoy their dramatic films much more than the comedies. Though I do like The Big Lebowski and John Goodman's awesome performance......M.Roca

Anonymous said...

I'm with you that Fargo and No Country For Old Men represents the Coen Brother's best films. A Serious Man didn't do much for me. I fall under the category that ZC wonders about you. I seem to enjoy their dramatic films much more than the comedies. Though I do like The Big Lebowski and John Goodman's awesome performance......M.Roca

Miss Topanga said...

i disagree. i actually do think it's their best film ;)

Shubhajit said...

@ZC:

Well, I won't deny your charges :) I do have a preference for their dramatic works over their comedies. But, come to think of it, barring the exception of Miller's Crossing & Blood Simple, deadpan humour abounds even in their dramatic works. So tough to draw a line for the Coens.

Shubhajit said...

@M.Roca:

Thanks for agreeing with that. Fargo & No Country for Old Men aren't just my favourite Coen films, they rank alongside my alltime favourite movies too. And well, I too loved Big Lebowski & Goodman's hilarious turn. Great to have your company on this :)

Shubhajit said...

@Miss Topanga:

Well, can't blame you for that. The movie does have the kind of profundity that is rare even by the brothers' standards.

movie news said...

This movie seems to in debate of being good and bad after reading the entire review and comments. I haven't watched it yet but now I am curious to watch it.

Shubhajit said...

Great that you're interested in watching this film. Yes, I agree, the film has the ability to produce polar opposite reactions in people, but then a Coen film always had that ability I guess. So do watch it if your interest in it persists.