Pin It
Favorite

A Serious Man 

If this film has a point, it's this: "Life is pointless, and so is this movie."

click to enlarge art14658.jpg

A Serious Man will be a serious challenge to many film-goers, even those who want more from movies than exploding robots. Aside from a cameo by Adam Arkin, it has no stars. It’s more philosophical than most moviegoers will have patience for. And if the film has a point, it’s this: “Life is pointless, and so is this movie. And if God exists, he’s a bastard who is either ignoring us or actively f------ with us.”

For this, we go to the movies? Well, yeah. If you like films that provoke thought and stimulate emotion, you’ll thrill to A Serious Man. In places, it’s droll but melancholy. In others, it’s hilarious yet heartbreaking. In all, it’s ironic but sincere. We could even call it “post-snark,” as if directors Ethan and Joel Coen (Burn After Reading, No Country for Old Men) are using the posture of sarcasm and satire to let us know they’re not kidding. They’ve got serious questions, serious concerns, and they’d like some goddamn answers from the management. (What they suspect, however, is that there are no answers and probably no management.)

The Coens express their angst through their new Job, physics professor Larry Gopnik, who, in 1967 Minneapolis, finds himself under metaphysical attack on all sides. His wife wants a divorce. His tenure at the university is threatened. His teenaged kids ignore him. Everywhere he turns, Larry is besieged — and New York theater actor Michael Stuhlbarg is so utterly sympathetic as Larry, so yearning for relief, that you can’t help but ache for him.

The film is semi-autobiographical, distilling the ethos and atmosphere of the Coens’ Midwestern childhoods in intellectual Jewish fashion. And it seems to me that right here, we may have the key to 2.6 h understanding the Coens’ entire oeuvre.

I’ve never studied the Torah, and I’ve never been terrorized by a rabbi who tells useless parables in the mistaken belief that this would make my troubles disappear. But at least now I get Barton Fink. I think…. (Rated R)

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Coeur d'Alene Blues Festival feat. Kenny Andrews

Coeur d'Alene Blues Festival feat. Kenny Andrews @ The Coeur d'Alene Resort

Sun., March 29

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Maryann Johanson

  • Sequel Success
  • Sequel Success

    Insurgent is more creative than a lot of sci-fi — and that doesn't say a lot about today's movies
    • Mar 18, 2015
  • Hardly Gentlemanly
  • Hardly Gentlemanly

    Kingsman is a spy movie that manages to defy its own mission
    • Feb 11, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Road Goes On Forever

    Widespread Panic's never-ending tour stops in Spokane for the first time since 1999
    • Mar 11, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Music


Film


Hip-hop


Indie Rock


Review


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation