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The Ambiguity and Uncertainty of Life in Coens’ ‘A Serious Man’

Written by on August 19, 2015 


With over 15 films under their belts across the last thirty years, for the Coens, no film seemed more immediately personal and initially perplexing than A Serious Man, perhaps ultimately their finest work. Released in 2009 to a tepid response at the box office, it’s gone on to attain a certain cult status (we named it one of the finest films of the previous decade), and today brings a new video essay which explores some of its themes.

Coming from Evan Puschak, it takes a look at the ambiguity and uncertainty of life as expressed in the journey of Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a Jewish physics professor in Minnesota in the 1960s who finds himself thrown into a series of Job-like events. From the film’s cryptic opening to its unforgettable final sequence, the video essay argues how the necessity (or lack thereof) of religion in the modern age consumes our protagonist, as well as how his various encounters correspond with byproducts of faith.

For those that admire the film and / or were simply baffled on first viewing, it’s a great watch and can be seen below in full.

A Serious Man is currently available on Blu-ray and to stream.

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