Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A Man Who Doesn't Seem To Be Very Fun.

The Coen Brothers' last production, released around this time last year for awards season. Leading up to their next release, True Grit, I thought it'd be an appropriate time to review this. This being, of course, A Serious Man.

At the end of the credits, the film claims, 'No Jews were harmed in the making of this motion picture.' Could have fooled me. A black comedy focused on the life of Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) as he goes through the more difficult times of his life. Divorce, teenage kids, a brother prone to gambling, court cases, lawyer's bills, land feuds and job problems involving bribes and complaints. Not a lot is going well for Larry. In more detail, His wife Judy (Sari Lennick) wants to leave Larry for her lover, Sy. (Fred Melamed) At work, a Korean student is bribing Larry to change a grade and complaints about Larry are flowing into the complaints box. On top of all this he has to deal with his law breaking brother and his teenage kids who steal money from him and just want him around to fix the television ariel. And that is pretty much the movie. There a few side plots: Larry's son Danny (Aaron Wolff) has issues with pot and bullies, Larry's daughter Sarah (Jessica McManus) wants a nose job and the next door neighbour.. well lets just say she has no problem tanning in clear view.
Sometimes, all you need is a hug.

Depending on your sense of humour, you'll either love this movie or hate it. Personally, I found it hilarious. It's so clever, so intelligent, so funny. There's all kinds of humour. There's visual comedy, intelligent jokes, religious humour and just plain funny reactions. The script is so well written but best of all: it's real. The issues that plague Larry are the same things that you or I may face. Okay, perhaps my son won't get high at his bar-mitzvah but it could happen. It's believable. The acting, particularly from Stuhlbarg, is just so good. It makes everything work. The reactions are funny yet real etc.

Direction, like always from this pair, is spot on. The Coen brothers are two of the best directors around at the moment and while this is no Big Lebowski or No Country For Old Men, it is still a brilliant movie. The camera work is so well worked, especially with comedy moments. In fact, the camera shots often make the scene even funnier... In a really good way.
'Teach, you can't be serious!'
'Oh, I'm serious. I'm a serious man.'

And a quick note on the ending, (Fear not, I avoid spoilers if I can... But this will cut it pretty close... No film ruining facts... but if you don't want to know anything about the end, look away,) the claims that the ending of this film isn't any good are completely unfair. The story that the Coens are telling the viewer is over. Like reality, when one story ends, another begins but it is a different story. And, in this case, the end is based on real events. Go use google if you wanna know what happens next.

Oh just go watch it. Stop reading this and go watch it. If intellectual comedy or religious humour isn't your cup of tea, it may not be your thing. But otherwise go watch it.

Best bit? I'm going to pick two. Cheeky I know.
1) Larry's explanation of Schrodinger's cat - with equation and all. (See second picture)
2) When Larry bids Arthur and his canoe goodbye, only to get a horrid shock.

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