By Jason Haggstrom, March 30, 2011
"This is not about… woopsie-doopsie."
So says Larry Gopnik’s wife, Judith, in the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man. But can we really be so sure about that? In "The Search for Answers in A Serious Man," I wrote that "A Serious Man exists as a parable about humankind’s inability to understand the will of God and how we must learn to deal with this lack of understanding." I still believe that and see it as the dominant reading of the film, but what if we look at the film through a different lens and consider that, perhaps, Larry’s real problems are more… primal.
By Jason Haggstrom, August 21, 2010
The Coen Brother’s A Serious Man wasn’t just my favorite film of 2009, it also arrived with my favorite poster from the year as well. The poster features a beautiful color palette—a faded away blue sky and Larry Gopnick’s washed out skins tones—that makes the photograph appear as though it were a forty-year old document held on to from the time in which the film takes place. The image shows Larry staring off the poster’s edge—looking for God or maybe looking for the Coens; for Larry, they might just be one and the same. Unfortunately for Larry, the photo he calls home has been encased by a thick, yellowed matting that holds him as a prisoner in the Coen’s constructed world. This poster is a phenomenal achievement in design that replicates the film’s era by way of the nostalgic photographs that often define it. At the same time, the image conveys the film’s theme of looking for answers where there are none to be found. Fantastic.
By Jason Haggstrom, June 21, 2010
The Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man is a film about suffering, religious tenets, miscommunication, and the way we perceive the universe and our existence within it. But the most common reaction to the A Serious Man is one of confusion. The film is complicated by multiple narratives, the idiomatic language of Jewish culture, and a highly ambiguous finale that leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. It’s a rare film that doesn’t wrap up all of its plot points and answer all of its questions by the end of the third act. For some viewers, coming away with no answers or proper resolution is the film’s undoing. But a close inspection of the film reveals it to be a narrative about the unknown. It’s a narrative designed to convey the confusion about our existence in the universe and how we, as a species with the cognitive ability to ask questions, must find contentment when we aren’t given answers.