Title: A Serious Man
Country: USA, UK, France
Language: English, Yiddish, Hebrew
Directors/Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Firstly, I guess one thing Coen brothers want to tell us from A SERIOUS MAN is that science and religious are both sides of a coin, the notorious cat proves the uncertainty of the universe meanwhile the Jewish rabbi advises our protagonist to accepting the uncertainty without questioning God as he is not responsible for giving us all the answers.
A SERIOUS MAN shows that Coen brothers have perfected their masterly skill in black comedy with more ruthless ambitions, from the hideous prologue, the Jewish vignette successfully gave me a creepily chilling feeling which I took as a portentous signal that maybe the film would never be as funny as I had thought (the fact is that it is categorized in COMEDY genre).
I must admit that for me this film creates many barricades in front as I know nothing about Jewish religion, which undermined the certain pleasure and transformed it into an unsatisfied feeling as that I was intermitted by confusion and even boredom frequently, maybe I shall not blame it on Coen brothers, as this mini-budget indie feature is merely a retrospective personal work (after NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and BURN AFTER READING’s success and all-star cast).
The cast consists of mainly unheard actors (as least for me), Michael Stuhlbarg embraces his first (but also his last) straw as a leading role in an important film with a vivid devotion, although almost of the time he looks like a funny version of Joaquin Phoenix. Surprised to see Simon Helberg (the Jewish nerd Howard in THE BIG BANG THEORY series) has a small cameo here, ironically he could be the biggest star among the cast.
I have to mention the ending, has the same effect as the frog rain in MAGNOLIA (1999) or the earthquake in SHORT CUTS (1993), the upcoming tornado is truly making its finishing point potently and meaningfully, which makes me have to give a 7/10 instead of 6/10.
This film was nominated as BEST PICTURE in Oscar this year, thanks for the double-sized quota and a further testimony of Steve Martin telling Christopher Waltz in the Oscar award ceremony this year earlier that authentically there are many Jews in Hollywood, even more than we thought.
P.S. as A SERIOUS MAN could easily manage inside the top 10 list last year, there is no reason their more ambitious new version of TRUE GRIT (1969), will miss its spot inside this year’s for Oscar next year. Let’s wait patiently and see.