A Serious Man

Serious

 

You’re browsing at the video store and you read this on the back of a DVD cover:  “Answers lead him (the hero) on a twisted journey of faith, family, delinquent behavior and mortality.”  Do you rent the movie?  Sounds nutritious, right?  Nah, you do what I do — you put it back on the shelf and find something a little … earthier.  Something with a little more … gusto.

Sometimes that impulse is a mistake.  A Serious Man, the Coen brothers’ reflection on Jewish life in 1960s Minnesota, is what you get when you combine a low-budget, intimate indie with the polish you’d expect from two Oscar-winning Hollywood veterans.

The plot seems simple:  Jewish family man faces crises as his world begins to crumble.  The humor is gentle; this is the 1960s Midwest — hardly Judd Apatow territory.  And yet, with this low-key, low-budget, low-concept material, the brothers Coen craft a film you might remember much longer than that earthier stuff, the stuff with “gusto.”      Grade:  B+

 

Directors:  Joel Coen, Ethan Coen  Cast:  Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed, Richard Kind, Aaron Wolf, Sari Wagner, Jessica McManus, Amy Landecker   Release:  2009

 

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