A Serious Man Review: Much Curse
In the rogues’ gallery of characters created by the Coen brothers, Larry Gopnik would stand out as neither the slickest nor the most entertaining – but in many ways he could be one of their finest.
And it’s fortunate that he is a serious man, because he’s got a list of problems that would make Jay-Z wince.
This latest offering from Joel and Ethan is already being hailed by some critics as their best yet, which is quite a claim considering the success they have enjoyed in a number of different genres.
Such talk is merely conjecture of course, but it is difficult to deny the class of this expertly-crafted sidewinder and for the brothers it represents a real return to their film-making roots.
The well-drawn characters, superb script and delicious sense of irony will make this dark comedy an underground hit to rival any of their other work.
Set in the same kind of Jewish community that the directors themselves grew up in, A Serious Man is a tale of a normal guys struggle to rationalise the misfortunes which befall him like a series of Egyptian plagues.
A passive-aggressive wife, a low-level blackmail campaign and the prospect of living at a motel with his neurotically unemployable brother are just some of the problems that Larry has to deal with.
However it is the palpable and hilarious dilemma he suffers as a professor of physics and a religious man which acts as the foundation for many of the comic asides. Subsequently, the film is adroit and subtly quick-witted, but cuts closer to the bone than many the pair have previously made.
This is undoubtedly due to the fact that it is set in the same Minnesota suburbs that they themselves grew up in, and we can easily imagine each character as an exaggeration of someone that lived down their road back in the sixties.
We just wonder who Larry’s pot-smoking son represent.