A Serious Man (2009) – Understanding Life From God’s Perspective

One thing stuck in my head after watching this movie. After “No Country for Old Men”, this movie appears with a less serious atmosphere than the previous film. “What is going on?” said Michael Stuhlbarg as Larry Gopnik. So is the audience. We question the same thing. At the same time, he said again: “I didn’t do anything.” But why, why, and why. This movie isn’t that complicated but it comes with a coincidence. Simple, you solve math or physics questions with one answer. There are no more answers. One plus one equals two. What else?

Yeah, it’s another debatable when talking about mathematics. However, their formula isn’t the same as life. You can’t find the answer, can’t find the cause, and the consequences. Ethan and Joel Coen play a game of chess as if it were the god who controls this film. Whatever, what they want. We only see it from God’s perspective.

In 1967, focused on Jewish families. Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. Larry Gopnik as head of the household in a family. A physics professor who teaches at a university. However, physical formulas cannot solve life. His wife, Sari Lennick as Judith Gopnik, suddenly wanted a divorce. She wanted to marry Fred Melamed as Sy Ableman, Larry’s old friend. His two children, Aaron Wolff as Danny Gopnik, have a habit of becoming a metalhead. Listening to metal or rock music, he is smoking marijuana too). Jessica McManus as Sarah Gopnik likes to go out rather than be with her family. She always whining about a television. At the same time, she stole her father’s money for an operation. A bad habit comes from his uncle when he often in a bathroom. There is his racist neighbor. And, one of his students tried to bribe him.

The film opens with scenes that had nothing to do. However, I see it as a concept as well as the main story. “A Serious Man” isn’t that serious. This film, in a sense, doesn’t make you think full even though it’s only a typical Coens. Simply put, it’s about coincidence. Suddenly, something unexpected happened. For no reason, just what has happened. Larry’s life as the main character is indeed a benchmark. Apart from which, not many things happened except that it was a coincidence. Going from minute to minute plus, the most neutral ending.

Larry is like a representation of a person who wants to find the real meaning of life. Turns out, there’s not much he does. Did Larry undergo such a thing as an exam or was that what he deserved? On the contrary, his existence simultaneously continually binds us, the audience, to feel relatable. And Coen brothers did that.

Coen brothers used Jewish family life as the major theme of the film. Yet, I’ve to find a dictionary to look for words related to Jews such as the Rabbi (or Bar Mitzvah). It’s one of the most important words in this film. Anyway, I get a lot of additional knowledge about traditions related to Jews. This becomes entertainment. Coen brothers are using black comedy and satire in this movie. Moreover, the films sometimes refer to religious or belief like “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The comedy they present doesn’t seem cheap.

Dialogues arising from the characters are a bit difficult to be able to capture the funny moments of such comedy. Like black comedy, “A Serious Man” focuses more on satire with a slightly dark series. But, let’s talk about the actors. Coen brothers used unfamiliar actors in this film. Michael Stuhlbarg as Larry Gopnik is just so good. The characters are flat but plain. So curious but surprised. He always asks, just why? The shocking expression then became a figure of speech and a picture of Larry’s life. Certainly, it’s a funny thing because of the character’s existence.

Richard Kind as Uncle Arthur also shows an annoying side in the sense of being funny. His annoying character then became the opposite picture of Larry Gopnik. It’s inversely proportional and creates a relationship between two characters. Fred Melamed as Sy Ableman doesn’t have too many roles but is the most important character for the film’s title. This brat is indeed the wife’s kidnapper but was a good friend to Larry. Aaron Wolff is also good. Just love his mumbling when saying Hebrew letters.

Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” is indeed not a laugh-out-loud type of where it will always make you laugh. But, this film makes you laugh more sarcastically if you understand the real essence. Overall, this film is so random. There is an event here, there, and at the same time. It’s a satire of our life and looking closely at our ambiguity real life. We try to find but we cannot. We do nothing but we got the hit. Simply, “A Serious Man” makes you ask questions and understand life from the other side. Michael Stuhlbarg is amazing. Likewise with other actors. The film closes with a big question and what the symbol means. The Book of Job quotes, “help me.” There are so many paradoxes and parables.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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