Out on DVD | A Serious Man – The Coen Bros put modern-day Job through the wringer

A Serious Man - Michael Stuhlbarg’s hapless Larry Gopnik doesn’t find comfort in the sympathy of Sy Abelman (Fred Melamed) in this black comedy from the Coen Brothers

The Coen Brothers return to the Midwest of their childhoods for A Serious Man, a mordant comedy set in an almost exclusively Jewish milieu in 1967 suburban Minnesota. They’re on home terrain, yet they observe their characters with their customary cool detachment – like someone holding up a bug in a jar for curious inspection.

The unfortunate specimen in A Serious Man is middle-aged Jewish physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), who goes through a series of Job-like trials after his wife announces that she is leaving him for another man. As more and more misfortunes befall him, Larry seeks guidance from a series of rabbis in an effort to make sense of his woes but only meets frustration at every turn.

The Coens unfold this tragic-comic tale with consummate skill. The acting is stylised, but just the right side of caricature, the photography masterly and the period details carefully observed – from clothes (men’s trousers hitched up high) to music (Larry’s pot-smoking son, supposedly preparing for his bar mitzvah, wigs out to Jefferson Airplane’s epochal Surrealistic Pillow).

For all the droll wit on display, though, it’s hard to warm to the Coens’ chilly parable. Is Larry’s suffering the work of God or the Devil, or just the random chaos of an indifferent universe? Arch-ironists to their fingertips, the Coens aren’t telling.

Out on DVD & Blu-ray.

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.
This entry was posted in DVD Releases, Reviews, The Best View and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>