A Serious Man was released in Canada on September 12, 2009 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, it stars exactly no one... and that is the beauty of this film.
The storyline is of a common Joe... or in this case, Larry... who is a bit of a modern-day Job. Problems at work, marriage falling apart, and a diagnosis that hangs over the viewer's head for the entire movie. It is classic Coen satire, a genre all its own these days. In this case, it was sometimes hard to keep up with what was being satired, if you will. Let's see... There were plenty of pokes at the sterotyped provincial Jewish culture. There was a jab or two at religion. Watching racism with a satirical twist was a riot. The humdrum of married and family life were parodied non-stop. I should not leave out the satirical setting. It was deliberately plunked in a more traditional and delayed gratification era to give us another smack up the back of the head about what we have become. I'm pretty sure I've missed a few, since I saw it five weeks ago.
As for Oscars, any time these guys tap out a story, it's good for a screenplay nod. The gross snub of Burn After Reading last year may actually increase their chances of parity this time around. The actors were chosen at the local bagel shop, it appears. They performed well, but there was nothing terribly remarkable. That was precisely the point... scream ordinary from the rooftops.
A Serious Man was not their best work, and the average goy may not be slapping her knee with the localized humor. But the Coen brothers are always entertaining... and they are always a risk to take home some hardware in February. For that reason, it's definitely worth the watch.