A Serious Man (2009)
The Coen brothers' latest outing, A Serious Man, ostensibly offers a slice of life from a dysfunctional Jewish family and community in Minnesota in the late 1960s. It is a black comedy of sorts, albeit without much support for the comedy, contrary to their wonderful previous film, Burn After Reading. Instead, A Serious Man is constructed as an ordeal - principally with a religious perspective (the Book of Job) - for our protagonist Larry (Michael Stuhlbarg) and the poor audience. Rarely have the Coens been less audience-friendly, as the multitude of insensitive supporting characters compete in making Larry's life increasingly miserable. The beautiful and accurate cinematography is the Coens canvas for some heavy blows to the Jewish clergy (the rabbis cannot offer much assistance), and both this and similar Jewish-specific comments and observations might give the film more value for people with a background or extensive knowledge in the Jewish faith. For me, the symbolic value of a weak man tortured by life to prove his faith in God is far too meager to make up an entire, monotonous motion picture.