Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Serious Man

The new film from the Coen brothers is a personal, some say autobiographical, story of a Jewish family in Minnesota in the '60's. Far from the broad appeal of their last two films, "A Serious Man" has no "A" list star power, although Michael Stuhlbarg (best know for his Broadway work) is excellent as the lead, Larry Gopnick. Also co-starring is Richard Kind and Adam Arkin.

The story has universal themes but is heavily steeped in Jewish culture. Mr. Stuhlbarg plays a college professor with growing problems at home and at work. As the film progresses, his problems mount and he seeks council from various place, including three very different rabbis. The Coen's ruminate on religion, family, and one's values. The film is a drama but there is much humor underlying the serious story.

As usual with the Coen Brothers, the film is brilliantly photographed (by Roger Deakins), directed with a detailed eye, and extremely well acted. The story will probably not appeal to a wide audience but as a young Jewish teen growing up in the '60's, the film brought back many memories of my own experience.

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