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Larry has a terrible time: a student tries to entangle him in a bribery web, his wife leaves him, his wife’s new lover is incredibly annoying, his supervisor is incredibly annoying, the rabbis he consults are either half-dead, full-fledged idiots or incredibly annoying. Oh and his brother is a criminal.

Ah – … er … em… I cannot say a lot about this, because I am not sure what it was a bout apart from … scenes of a dorky nature, present by a not very spirited Jew suffering under his Jewishness. As I know very little about Jewish habits, festivities and rituals, it always strikes me as very exotic to see those rites presented in films. But actually I have the impression that the writers and directors of these films also feel that those habits are kind of odd – celebrated with even more vigour and fervour than the Christians would celebrate their own Christmases, First Communions or Easters. So by just exposing their tortured main character (him being a sufferer of Lot-ian dimensions, hence becoming an old testament reference in and out of himself) to all those family and relatives traditions that he clearly seems to be overwhelmed by, they can already ruin his life. Bar mitzvah or separation ritual, it all stinks to him and he wants to escape from it, making him a very lovable annoying character out of the big sketch book of the Coen brothers’ annoying yet lovable characters. And it seems the new habit of Coens is to end their movies early and abruptly. In the words of the Salon.com reviewer:

“A Serious Man” — I blow hot and cold on the Coens, but even their weaker films (e.g., “Burn After Reading,” “The Ladykillers“) reward repeat viewings — and their better films reward them even more. This utterly delicious black-comic Jewish fable, set in a middle-class Midwestern suburb in the ’60s (a place that still carries buried undertones of Eastern European shtetl) is among their funniest and darkest films, both humane and ruthless in a way that’s highly Coen-specific. As the last shot faded to black, I sat up in my seat and said, “Oh my fucking God!” Which is precisely right.”

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