Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Serious Man - Review

The Coen Brothers seem to have this bizarre talent. For every masterpiece they make, and in all fairness they have made a few in their time, they usually always tend to follow it up with something equally as forgettable, verging on plain dire.

On the logic that their previous film Burn After Reading was nonsensical tripe, following on from the Oscar winning No Country For Old Men, then hopefully their latest entry into their catalogue, A Serious Man will surely be another classic in the same breath as the latter, as well as The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou and Fargo? Well it certainly makes a decent case...

A Serious Man is the tale of an ordinary man, Larry Gopnik, who is trying to find balance and understanding in the world. Through seemingly no fault of his own his entire life is crumbling around him, his wife leaving him for another man, his kids are taking advantage of him and his money, and one of his students is seemingly bribing him to get a better grade, amongst other onus of life.

One of the most wonderful aspects of this film was Larry himself (played by relative new-comer to cinema screens, Michael Stuhlbarg), who was quite possibly one of the most likeable losers this side of the Atlantic, a kind and generous man, yearning for a normal, stable life. Life unfortunately deals him a raw deal and forces him to demand answers from the heavens above, leading him on a journey of self-discovery.

Ethan and Joel Coen's screenplay is remarkable. A beautiful mixture of Woody Allen's highest moments with the modern idiosyncratic humour of Curb Your Enthusiasm. This is comedy at its most sophisticated. I know it's such a cliche but Jewish comedy is always better than regular comedy.

Visually the film was as much a joy to experience as it was to listen. With bright vibrant colours capturing the spirit of the decade the story was set in, verging into the realms of the psychedelic which brings back memories of their glorious Big Lewbowski. This was only mutiplied by the wonderful soundtrack featuring Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and yet another emotive piano score from the ever talented Carter Burwell. It evoked memories of the 1999 comedy-drama, American Beauty in places.

Final Thoughts
Sophisticated, witty, uplifting and actually pretty hilarious. Once again the Coens have recovered from their previous failings of Burn After Reading and created a jaw dropping modern classic. If you didn't know of Michael Stuhlbarg before this, you will now. This unfortunately leaves the film-makers in a difficult position for breaking their much frustrating rule because regardless of how good their next movie may be, it would need to be something incredible to touch this. I know we're only ... 10 days into 2010 but this already is a serious contender for film of the year.


See This If You Like...
Woody Allen films, Curb Your Enthusiasm, American Beauty etc.

A Serious Man is at most cinemas now. See it. Seriously (no pun meant...)

1 comment:

Dave Verner said...

Come on now Andy, Burn Afte Reading was a great watch!