A Serious Man – Not In On the Joke

I love the Coen brothers. From Blood Simple through to No Country For Old Men, I have found their movies range from good to brilliant, but with A Serious Man, I felt like I was watching someone tell an
‘in-joke’, the kind of joke that every one else (the critics) are laughing at and you feel you should be too…but you just don’t get it.

The story of a 60’s Job, Larry Gopnick, who has everything go wrong at once then finds his life going downhill from there, A Serious Man has many of the hallmarks of a Coen brothers, quirky characters, darkly
comic bits and a skewed view of the foibles of life. But I kept asking myself throughout, what is all this pointing to? Like Larry, I felt that I was witnessing a great cosmic joke perpetrated by the creator
(God/Coens) but I wasn’t being let in on it. What’s the meaning of it all? It seems only the Coen’s can answer that.

I read some reviews after, both positive and negative, hoping to shine some light on my confusion, but the positive seemed to be members of the club and the negative were confused, like me. There was no middle ground.

I work in a video store and have spoken to many people about this movie, some regular ‘Joes’, some dyed-in-the-wool Coen brothers fans, and not a single one liked or ‘got’ it either. I guess we didn’t drink the Koolaid.


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