Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: 'A Serious Man' [A]

By Chase Kahn

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man is as resonant, thought-provoking and self-assured as any film that the hard-working duo have embarked upon. It's a perfectly calculated kind of marriage from everybody involved that doesn't miss a step.
I found it shockingly honest, up-front and truthful in its philosophical and existential overtones, which give each and every scene more insight, depth and ingenuity than the one before it until the film, in the end, just throws up its hands.

After a crazy opening prologue, the film immerses the viewer in this freshly-mowed, brown and beige 60's Jewish Minnesota suburb. Anyone who has seen Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Miller's Crossing or O, Brother Where Art Thou? knows that no one captures the look, feel and aura of cultural and hidden geographical environment like the Coen Brothers.

A Serious Man has this tangible hairy-chested, gold chain, big-eared, short-sleeve-and-tie acuteness to it that only they could so naturally bring to screen. Their perceptiveness to different accents and vocal intonations and mannerisms is also unchecked and easily identifiable here in the many standout and key supporting performances. Especially those by Simon Helberg and Fred Melamed in a largely inconspicuous cast.

The whole bloodline, rhythm and beat to A Serious Man is the idea that when bad things start happening and you can't catch a break and your life is being beaten down into two or three things that need mending over here and two or three more over there to the point where you just can't catch up -- what do you do then? How do you interpret the things that happen to you? What does it all mean? After watching the film, you'll have the same questions, but not all of the answers.

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