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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cody's Film Review: A Serious Man

It has always taken me a few viewings to appreciate Coen Brother films and A Serious Man will be no exception. Films like Barton Fink and Millers Crossing I enjoy at first then after watching it a few times I begin to love them and they become some of my favorite films. Other times I watch The Ladykillers and O Brother, Where Art Thou? and multiple viewings do not help me appreciate them more. A Serious Man may fall into the latter category. I am being a little hard on it because I expect the world from the Coen brothers and I know what they are capable of. Technically the film is flawless, it looks great and the acting is right on. Roger Deakins photography is excellent and you feel you are in 1967. The main problem I had was the story, it's simple and nothing really happens. Michael Stuhlbarg is great as a man who's life is suddenly falling apart and his religion is doing nothing to help him, that is pretty much the entire story. I am sure it has a few hidden agenda's like women are the root of all evil, corruption leads to death, and don't sweat the small stuff because more serious problems are on the horizon,but I'm not sure and thats what multiple viewings are for. The only problem I had with Stuhlbarg's character is he is such a victim that after awhile you lose sympathy for him simply because he never stands up for himself. Some of his problems are so simple to get out of that all he has to do is say "no" or just talk to someone and his problems are over. There are too many dream sequences and too many characters that are their just to be quirky. I wanted a standout performance or a deeply enriched character, and instead we get good acting with nothing too memorable.The story can be confusing at times if you know nothing of the Jewish religion, but they repeat themselves a few times and the uneducated viewer,like myself, gets the jist of it. I was lucky enough to go to the New York Premiere where the cast and crew were present, and I really wanted a Q&A afterwards to possibly get some deeper meanings, if any, on the film as a whole. I think the audience felt forced to laugh at the quirkiness and maybe a little inferior because of a feeling that their should be something more to the film. If you are a Coen Brothers fan then I recommend this film, you will get something from it, but not their top work. Don't let the greatness of the ending fool you into thinking this is a great movie. 3 out of 5 stars.

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