A Serious Man

A Serious Man review

A Coen Brothers film is always an enticing prospect and usually a very satisfying film-going experience. Following the celeb-fest of the ever-so slightly below par (yet still entertaining) Burn After Reading, A Serious Man does away with the big names and, with a considerably lower budget ($7m vs. $37m of its predecessor), pulls off a better looking (thanks, perhaps, to “The Third Coen”, director of photography Roger Deakins), considerably more entertaining film.

The relatively low budget has given the filmmakers more freedom to explore Hollywood-unfriendly themes and go for all-out dark, dark comedy that doesn’t let up. Following a bleak, black opening scene, we follow Larry Gopnik as his life turns from bad to worse. To even worse. Again and again. And again. Very appealing to an acerbic British sense of humour.

And although it may not be Clooney, Pitt, McDormand and Malkovich, Stuhlberg, Lennick, Kind and Melamed all deliver absolutely superb, convincingly depressive, performances, helped by very well conceptualised, strong, deep characters. Building such enthralling characters really is the key to the Coens’ success and it’s something they’re getting better and better at.

4 out of 5

23rd Nov 2009 | Official site | On IMDb