18 October 2009

Review: "A Serious Man"

It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of the Coen brothers. Fargo is a brilliant film, their best in my opinion, and No Country for Old Men was a wonderful turn from black comedy to suspense. The newest film, A Serious Man, seems to have opened in theatres without much fanfare. Last year's Burn After Reading also opened at the Toronto International Film Festival, but had much more publicity. This is probably due to the fact that Richard Kind (or Adam Arkin) are the biggest names featured in this new film. A Serious Man was the best reviewed film at TIFF and after seeing the film I can see why. Todd McCarthy, film critic at Variety, said of the film: "This is the kind of picture you get to make after you've won an Oscar." It is a fiercely funny film that has drawn numerous comparisons to Woody Allen due to its Jewish main character's religious quest for holy guidance. Maybe that is why I enjoyed it so much! Immediately after the film ended all I wanted to do was sit back down and see it again.

Michael Stuhlbarg stars as Larry Gopnik, a physics professor and father of two in suburban Minnesota. His wife Judith has just told him that she wants a divorce so that she can marry his friend Sy. His daughter Sarah is only interested in going out and is always annoyed by Larry's brother Arthur, who is constantly draining his cyst in the washroom. Danny, his son, is about to have his bar mitzvah, but prefers listening to Jefferson Airplane and getting high. Larry's spiritual well-being is further compromised by a student's bribes, his less-than-comfortable living arrangement, his application for tenure at the university, and his quest to find a rabbi who will help him through the tough times.

The film is enjoyable to watch and the pacing is perfect. The film flows with such ease that after the film ends you can not believe that time has passed. The actors, all relatively unknown, have created such memorable characters that it is easy to find sympathy. I did watch the film and hope that Larry would overcome his obstacles. The way the film ended was as unexpected as it was refreshing, and it really left me with many questions. I guess that means that there is just more to talk about!

My rating: 4 stars out of 4.

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