"When the truth is found to be lies,
and all of the joy within you dies..."
A Serious Man
A Film by the Coen Brothers
Seeing this movie last week-end must have stirred up the mid-sixties incidents I've been posting about lately.
Set in a Minneapolis suburb in 1967, this film is the Coens' take of the Story of Job, as seen through through the lens of their collective childhood memories. At the center of past Coen Brothers' films has often been a cosmic joke, but this film takes a direct look at the capricious nature of the universe. Although it is quite funny at times, it is dead serious. Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is an almost-tenured physics professor paralyzed into inaction by a series of events beyond his control; a rudderless vessel in a sea of destructive forces. His family, instead of being a source of pride and comfort, tear at him- an emotional fire-storm that this "man of science" is absolutely helpless to resist. Even his faith offers no solace, indeed it may be the main problem.
All of the Coen Brothers' films have great acting and this one is no exception. There are no "stars" but every role is cast and played to perfection. This movie is a break for the Coens for it is no longer an entertainment, but is really a spiritual story. Not a New Testament story of Faith and Redemption, but rather an Old Testament story of an irrational and wrathful God, and the powerlessness of man.