May 13, 2010

A Serious Man Review

400th post!

 image from Amazon

It's 1967 and a Jewish professor named Larry Gopnik has a crappy life. And I mean crappy. One kid's a pothead, one kid's a dropout mall-rat, or possibly groupie, and neither of them listen to him. His witchy wife is cheating on him with someone who looks twice his age, but is supposed to be his friend. And he's getting poked and prodded at from every angle at the school he works. So... life sucks.

The directing and cinematography is great. It may have just been noticeable to me because I've taken film classes and actually look at this stuff, but even the first "present day" scene (in 1967, cuz the first scene is actually from the early 1900's/late 1800's in "the old country") made me say "wow, that's a heck of a set they built." Acting was very good too.

That's about as positive as I can get about the film because the rest really irritated me. Firstly, it was a lot of yiddish thrown in like every day slang, which as a non yiddish speaking, non-Jew, a lot of the plot points and dialog left me outcasted. Also the main character is only a step above Frodo in terms of a lame duck who doesn't actually do anything. What few problems do get resolved for Larry aren't solved by his own hand but rather by "the will of God". The the ending scene completely steps away from Larry and focuses on his son.

My Highlights:
The only scene I'll probably take away from this movie particularly fondly is of the billion-year-old-looking Rabbi's words to Larry's son on the day of his Bar Mitzva.

It's the lyrics of "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane

Overall Rating:
A Serious Man was very well crafted and artsy in its production but at the end of the day was not a movie for everyone. It's a real shame too because I got my hopes up and even blogged to hype the film up. Well constructed depiction of the Story of Job or not, I can only give this movie 2 *'s out of 5 or 4 *'s out of 10.

When You Should See It:
Unless you're a stereotypical Jew, the kind that is the butt of Eric Cartmen's tirades, don't bother. This is the equivalent of an African-American comedy that knows its target audience and turns its back to everyone else. Don't get me wrong, there are ethnic-targetting movies out there that embrace every viewer with open arms, but really, this isn't one of them. Don't bother if you're not heavily into Judaism.

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