“A SERIOUS MAN” (Michael Stuhlbarg)
A better title for this film would have been, “Unresolved: The Story Of A Jewish Man & His Jewish Family Living Ultra-Jewish Lives”
Although, they are correct in that this is a ‘serious’ movie; but being a Coen Brothers creation, one would have thought that was a facetious title... It isn’t, though the Jewish people in the theatre ‘got’ the so-called jokes that went over my non-Yiddish head.
For the record I chuckled once (At the oft repeated line, “I’ll be out in a minute!”)
& laughed once (At the one memorable line, “F Troop is fuzzy.”)
For the rest of the duration of the movie my emotions ran from confused to bored to annoyed. This is an awful film. It will be hard not to include in my Bottom 10.
The film starts in what I imagine was Hebrew; a scene involving whether or not a certain Jewish man was dead. The reason for this intro is never explained – apparently it was to tell us that the Gopnik family has a curse on it... But it was all gibberish to me, so I could be wrong, & if I am, I really don’t care.
They used subtitles for the opening scene, but then they stopped for some reason, even though I had no idea what language these Jewish people were speaking. I was told that one needn’t be Jewish to enjoy this film – That is a complete & utter lie.
You only need to read a couple of my reviews (“Religulous”, “The Invention Of Lying”)
to know that I am not a fan of religion... ANY religion. So I didn’t have any desire to see this film. Then I was told that it was the story of a ‘typical’ family from the 1960’s that ‘just happen’ to be Jewish’. No, these people are Jewish to the core; everything they do, think & speak involves being Jewish. Your ‘typical’ family doesn’t wear beanies & run to rabbis every time they feel troubled. Your average teenage son doesn’t have a Bar Mitzvah that you have to suffer through while he practices the ‘chant’ he must recite at the religious ritual. Yes, I’m picking on Jews because that’s what this film is ALL about.
If it was all about any other religious cult, I’d be complaining about that ‘sect’. & I was unhappy about it because I was led to believe that religion WASN'T the centerpiece.
Now, if you happen to BE Jewish & you’re still reading, I am going to recommend this movie to you (I mean, if you’re REALLY into being Jewish)
The plot in a nutshell; Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a professor seeking tenure at the college where he teaches math (That’s another thing – You need to REALLY be into math equations as well!)
I guess it was suppose to be funny that Prof. Gopnik’s lone Asian student was the only one who was failing his class & that his family decided to bribe the teacher to get their son a passing grade.
Larry’s wife, Judith tells him she’s been seeing widower Sy Ableman & she wants Larry to move out (Along with his Uncle Arthur)
Don’t get excited about the name, old timers, it isn’t Paul Lynde as Uncle Arthur, it’s Richard Kind & you couldn’t imagine a more annoying person if you tried...
Larry’s trips to see the 3 rabbis follows & each ‘visit’ is as uninteresting & void of humor as the next.
By the time they got to the unrealistic & dumb meeting Larry’s son has with the eldest rabbi, I was so done with this film, I saw no humor at all in what I’m sure the Coens thought was a very clever scene. It wasn’t clever, it was stupid – trying to make a 100 year old rabbi seem ‘hip’ was a very low grade ‘pay off’.
So yes, if you’re Jewish & rabbis telling dull stories are your ‘bag’ then you’ll love ‘A Serious Man’.
& I can’t sign off without registering one minor complaint that no one else would have noticed or been bothered by – It's my trademark - At one point Larry is on the roof of his house fiddling with the TV antennae when he notices the well built Mrs. Samsky (Amy Landecker) sunbathing nude next door. Later, Larry fantasizes about having sex with Mrs. Samsky & she’s wearing a bra... I couldn’t help but shake my head in bewilderment – What kind of man’s fantasy life is less erotic than reality? He knows what her breasts look like (& they’re spectacular) so why does he cover them with a bra while fantasizing about her?
No wonder his nagging, unattractive wife left him for Sy Ableman!