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A Serious Man

A Serious Man is an amazing movie. It’s not necessarily a fun movie, it’s not an action movie, it doesn’t even have any particular plot, in the Hollywood understanding of that word. It is simply an amazing movie. Its symmetry is breathtaking. Its degree of subtly and polish places it in at least the top three of the Cohen brothers’ repertoire.

Basically, in the very best sense of the word, it is literature.

This is a relief. I worried for a bit that the Cohen brothers had lost their magic. The best part of Burn After Reading was the trailer. The Ladykillers starred Tom Hanks. Intolerable Cruelty… well, I don’t remember¬† anything about Intolerable Cruelty. No Country For Old Men was great, but it was written by Cormac McCarthy, so of course it was great.

A Serious Man, however, is the kind of movie that makes you sit back and say, “I could never, ever do that.” In fact, I’m still not entirely sure what it is they did. Superficially, the story echoes a classic from the English 101 Western Literature canon. In that respect, it is reminiscent of The Man Who Wasn’t There and O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

But as in The Big Lebowski, there is such a richness of imagery, characters, language, and dark humor that I could never say with confidence what A Serious Man is about. Suffice it to say that if a movie is good, I find myself thinking about it hours, days, even weeks after seeing it.

By this measure, A Serious Man is very, very good.