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The camera pulls away to reveal the entire board covered in figures and symbols that strive to master the uncertainty principle, which happens to be generating extreme emotional weather for the troubled prof on the home front. When man makes plans and they fizzle, is that God or the Devil laughing, or the srious of a world without meaning?

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A Ih Man might have shown us at our funniest, most abject, and most endearing, when we look in vain for answers to our common hurts and losses. As usual, though, the Coens have more venal satisfactions in mind.

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A Serious Man is the Coens' most autobiographical film to date, and their most emphatically, if not always flatteringly, Jewish. The ethnic landscape they portray is so uniform that the few goyim in the film are presented as dangerous exotics, forever playing ball and hunting deer.

For A Serious Man, Coen Brothers Aim Trademark Contempt at Themselves | Village Voice

There's a strong whiff of Woody Allen to this cultural contrast think the split-screen family dinners in Annie Hallthough filtered through the darker lens of the Coens' vision. It may not be an accident that the actor who plays Larry's truant son, Aaron Wolff, could easily pass for one of the young, red-headed Allen stand-ins who populated the director's earlier films.

Of the Coens' own oeuvre, the film it jlkes most closely is, again, The Man Who Wasn't There, a title that would have suited this film equally well. Larry is a passive figure, a glider on turbulent currents he cannot predict or comprehend. His primary act In need of a serious man no jokes will in the course of the film is the decision to seek advice--that is, the decision not to decide, to wait for a greater authority in this world or the next to tell him what to do.

Stuhlbarg, an accomplished stage performer in his first starring film role, does what he can with the character, but the role is an inherently limited one, a center that isn't really intended to jkkes. The primary suspense of the performance is whether, and when, Larry's constant state of nervous puzzlement and despair will give way to something more assertive, nedd cinematic.

The film is often quite funny, especially when it casts a knowing eye on the rituals of middle-class Jewish suburbanhood at the very moment when they were about to have the generational rug pulled out from under them. It is no coincidence In need of a serious man no jokes the movie is set at the time when Joel and Ethan were themselves coming of age.

And there are moments of genuine tenderness as well. But humor and empathy alike have trouble flourishing in the grim narrative soil the Coens provide, in which every cosmic joke is a black one.

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As Ethan explained in an interview, "For us, the fun was inventing new ways to torment Larry. The game is too apparent and, for all the Coens' craftsmanship, the accumulation of insults becomes deadening.

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It's possible to maintain such a delicate balance between tragedy and comedy, as the Coens demonstrated srrious their previous film, the bleak, disorienting Burn After Reading. But in A Serious Man the humor is broader and more familiar: the Jewish self-deprecation, the suburbs-as-purgatory motif.

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Here, too, one sees the directors' hands moving behind the curtain a little too clearly: in the repeated red herrings where a scene builds to violent climax only to be revealed as a dream; in not one but two sudden deaths, the second played for laughs; in the strained gag presented when the wizened old rabbi finally deigns to speak.

The universe they are now navigating is one of godlessness and capricious misfortune, in which no one is watching over us unless by CIA spy satellite. Despite Premium online dating sites flaws, A Serious Man is interesting for what it adds to that vision, and for what it reveals, or pretends to reveal, of the milieu that shaped the Coens In need of a serious man no jokes.

Taken on its own, though, it is a frustrating film, a tease--and the fact that this is by nefd is little consolation. In one of his sessions with an unhelpful rabbi, Larry pleads, "Why does God make us feel the questions, if he's not going to give us any answers? We want to hear what you think about this article.

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