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Saturday, 5 December 2009

Film – A Serious Man – directed by Ethan & Joel Cohen

Star rating – 5/10

This is a very dark film – no doubt about that. It is the tale of Larry Gopnik, a Jewish physics professor in the mid west of America in the 1960s. When we join Larry and his family their world seems to be disintegrating fast. His wife has been having an affair and announces that she wants them to separate. Larry has to move into a motel with his overweight, dysfunctional brother Albert. His son and daughter seem to have no redeeming features to speak of. His son is a TV obsessed dope head, and his daughter is obsessed with washing her hair and planning to have a nose job. And his work at the college is not going swimmingly well either.

The Cohens use a cast of unknowns here, and the acting is top class. Michael Stuhlbarg is excellent as the hapless Larry. He seeks guidance from a string of Rabbis – none of whom seem particularly suited to the task. He finds solace in the arms of a sexy neighbour. Still nothing goes right for him.

The film is very bleak, Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do - in a spectacular fashion. It is darker than the Cohen brothers’ earlier offerings. Too dark for me by far. In the end I just didn’t really get the point of the film. And I didn’t get all of the humour. There are a lot of Jewish jokes that totally passed by me, but had some of the audience rolling with laughter. The closing credits assure the audience that ‘No Jews were harmed in the making of this motion picture’. So that’s a relief. But I was disappointed – not as good as for example ‘Fargo’, or ‘No Country for Old Men’. For my money not one of their best offerings.

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