Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Revolutionary Road...With Latkes

A Serious Man

Release: 10.02.09
Rated R
1 hour, 45 minutes

Full Price

Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a Jewish physics professor in Minnesota, confesses to his Korean student that despite teaching the physics behind Schrödinger's cat, even he doesn't get the story. Larry doesn't get a lot of things; why his wife wants a divorce, why her new man is so considerate, why the junior rabbi really likes the parking lot. Larry just wants things to go back to the way they were, but once you've looked inside the box, you can't make a dead cat live again.

I watched A Serious Man several days ago and have been scratching my head ever since. Thanks to earlier Coen Brothers films, I have learned to absorb every onscreen detail because it's all important. That's probably why it came as such a shock when the credits abruptly rolled. I was engrossed by the myriad of untimely events unfolding for Larry and his family, and then, nothing. I felt like shouting in my best Professor G.H. Dorr impersonation, "We must all have closure, forthwith!"

It was irksome to be left hanging. Obviously, while analyzing the amazing visuals I had somehow missed the big picture. I retraced my viewing experience, trying to decipher the dybbuk tale that preceded Larry's story. I started to just let it go and accept my co-worker's assertion that A Serious Man "is a little too Jewish." Deep down I knew better. I broke down and read the review posted at Movie Reviews by FAQ. Her brief but concise Q&A limbered my mind; my thinking about the film, man, had become uptight.

A Serious Man follows Larry, a man who assumes life is good until it's proven otherwise. Larry can't find a logical explanation as to why his life seems cursed; it just is. Faith and family provide him with answers yet he refuses to see them. This seemingly abrupt look into the life of Larry is simply saying life is what you make of it. It's an especially poignant statement at a time in our country when folks find themselves with less and less.

The Money Shot
There are those of us who say when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Others will say, unless it gives you sugar, your lemonade is going to suck.Still others will say, fuck lemons! I am probably still only scratching at the surface of because it's not an easily accessible film. That's the beauty (and frustration) of A Serious Man: you have to accept the mystery before the answers reveal themselves.

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