Continuing my countdown of every Coen Brothers movie…
#6. A Serious Man (2009)
(up one spot from previous ranking)
This is the Coen Brothers’ densest text, but it’s still an easy watch. Leave it to them to explore the existence of God and the purgatory of uncertainty and still deliver a film this funny.
A Serious Man asks if we’re victims of an indifferent god (as the next film on my list suggests), or if our moral actions have consequences. And can we ever know, or is the trick to let it pass, like a toothache?
When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies
Don’t you want somebody to love?
– Jefferson Airplane, ‘Somebody to Love’
So goes the song at the center of A Serious Man, the extraordinary new film by The Coen Brothers, and those lyrics sum up the plight of main character Larry Gopnik quite nicely. Gopnik is a physics professor, a few weeks short of tenure, whose life begins falling apart around him through no fault of his own. A Serious Man traces his attempt to find a way out of the darkness. Anybody familiar with The Coen Brothers’ filmography can guess how that goes.