A Serious Man.

Categorised as ART., FILM.

Even though they might not be everybody’s cup of tea (which is of course normally indicative that something is good as opposed to bad; 14 million people in this country watch Coronation Street – probably about 150,000 appreciate Brahms’ German Requiem), I normally consider any Coen Brothers film to be a pretty safe bet. Previous films from the critically acclaimed (Fargo) to the cult classics (Blood Simple) have endeared me with their lack of convention, frequent disregard for a linear plot, and adventurous yet deep characterisation, however their latest film left me utterly bewildered.

I will give them some benefit of the doubt due to the fact I watched it after having been awake for about 40 hours and I possibly drifted off and missed about 10 (possibly crucial?) minutes somewhere in the middle, however, I remain pretty confident that there is about as much value in setting your DVD player to shuffle and watching the scenes in a completely random order, as there is in attempting to watch, let alone enjoy the film. The protagonist is a Jewish lecturer, his life is shit and gets progressively shitter, none of the three Rabbis he sees in desperation are of any use to him, and his wife is having an affair with some creepy, widowed pensioner. That’s the basic outline, but the film was so devoid of any tangible content that I wouldn’t hope for much more if you do decide to see it.

None of the characters in the film are likeable, or even likeably hateable; they are merely empty shadows delivering bland lines. There is no sense of a story arc and the film ends on the most puzzling cliffhanger. Maybe this has all gone over my very tired head, but I can’t quite understand how a film that ends on a frame of a tornado approaching the films main setting can in any way be satisfying? Maybe the Coens had hoped for something a little more sensational but they had run out of budget or time (the film does seem to have been released eerily soon after their last film ‘Burn After Reading’).

The Coens have established such a secure fan base that this film is guaranteed at least moderate success based upon their previous output, however, from now on I will, for the first time, be approaching any future films they produce with a newfound caution.

Words Jack Johnson

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