Monday, November 2, 2009

please, accept the mystery

Though this summer boasted numerous great blockbuster films, I was continually disappointed. It wasn't that the movies were bad or boring, they were actually quite good...until the end. The endings of so many movies, especially those that tried to be anti-Hollywood and independent (cough*500daysofsummer*cough*thehurtlocker*cough), always withdrew to a typical Hollywood ending. Have to please the audience, I get it, but many endings simply ruined the movie for me. I wanted a strong, poignant ending instead. I wanted to be told something and left in shock or contemplation.

Well, three months later, I got it. Joel and Ethan Coen's newest wonder baby, A Serious Man, met my expectations. And when the credits started rolling and Jefferson Airplane was still blaring, I sat with a wide smile on my face. The brothers had gotten right. A film's ending is its conclusion, so if it disappoints than often the whole movie does too.

A Serious Man follows Physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg). Things are not going well for Larry. He is going through some financial difficulties, being blackmailed by a student, preparing his son for his Bar Mitzvah, and just found out his wife wants a divorce. Oy! The Coen brother's used their own experiences as growing in a Jewish suburb in Minnesota for the setting and plot of the film, the culmination of which is darkly hilarious. Lighter than No Country for Old Men and more poignant than Burn After Reading, A Serious Man questions religion, fate, and family. Even if someone is good and does mitzvahs and follows all the rules, does that mean everything will go right for them? What does a serious man deserve?

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