Saturday, January 16, 2010

"A Serious Man" (2009) - Movie Review

Coen Brothers do it again with what their movies does to me, clueless yet admiring. “A Serious Man”, a venture like no other as their other films is not a film which can be said straightforward. Weird might be a putting it mildly. Entertaining would be putting it mildly too. It is a film like no other and they detach its viewer from its main character Lawrence Gopnik (Michael Stuhlberg) which they should as we cannot take so much happening in the drain for one man.

It begins with a Jewish folk tale and if that is odd, what follows that is something else. But several times I may say of this eccentricity, this is so much the life of any one leading the suburban life. The cars and costumes reflect the 60s but more than that is the radio transistor Larry’s son Danny (Aaron Wolff) has clearly marks the era. Larry, a professor in physics has his life as his derivations in the big black board. Troubles have stitched itself to Larry and no one listens or lets him complete his sentences.

His wife Judith (Sari Lennick) asks two divorce, a legal and a ritual one so that she can remarry Larry’s friend and widower Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed), his tenure at the university is coming, a Korean student is bribing huge amounts of money to change his grade, his brother Arthur (Richard Kind) has been crashing at his house for months now with odd theorems and numerics in a book titled “The Mentaculus” and there are several other idiosyncrasies and mishaps which fall into the legs, laps and slaps our man’s face continuously.

Thinking these things as those random events happening to one single man, it is not. We somehow or other are into that patch of infinite bad things happening to us in finer detail. In such precision and cruelty which results in the existential, religious and philosophical questions. No one to answer and looking up helps but for Larry every one suggests which appear promising yet die soon in its usefulness. In this dark comedy, Coen brothers allows their viewers to think for Larry. May be in that process answer themselves of how each of us live to be silent than to confront the uncomfortableness. Obey the rules and hope things would become better and begin to change the state of mind to be massaged and getting used to the pain.

Roger Deakins is back with the Coens to give an angle us living through those moments would like to see ourselves filmed. A neighbour who mows Larry’s part of the property and he comes to look at both the end. There is a beauty to those two viewpoints seeing back of Larry’s head towards those invading lines of privacy and authority. Somebody is always mowing Larry’s property personally, professionally and religiously too.

I laughed out crazily on certain scenes and moved deeply when Larry cares for his brother Arthur. The people surrounding are either complaining or ignoring him. The rabbis whom Larry decides seek guidance on his crumbling life, are doing their best but we know that they are dodging the bullet. And it tells how intricately and closely knit are Jewish communities. Starting professors till lawyers, everybody knows everyone and react in a notable similar manner. But just as you begin to stereotype, as with any other, we are surprised.

“A Serious Man” focuses on many things and the one which I liked and noted was the way people take time to reach, respond, walk by and stare. In several independent films this has been pondered greatly but nothing has been so entertaining while doing it. I cannot even fathom on the rhythm these two observe to present to their audience who might enjoy it. An oddity which so much off a teeny tiny side step would disrupt the whole movie is in an immaculate balance.

As I was speechless by the way “No Country for Old Men” left me by its ending of bluntness, similar effect arrived in “A Serious Man” I began to think of that reaction. There has been films much I have adored and appreciated where it begins from one point and ends at another without a start and an end. But I see the difference from those and The Coens is that the latter throws it at our face without any warning or resolve. That takes guts but mainly an integrity for their love of film making.

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