Wednesday, 19 May 2010
A Serious Man 
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