We know what the Coen Brothers are capable of achieving after No Country for Old Men; we have come to expect the same quality for each of their next projects. It seems that A Serious Man is poised to be another great film by these talented directors, following the same exact way of telling the story with its slow pace and complex characters, but without going into much detail you must know that this film has been nominated for two (2) Academy Awards including Best Picture of the Year. So let’s get to the review.
Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is an ordinary man living an ordinary life or so it seems. One at a time every piece that Larry calls a life is falling apart right in front of him, like a domino effect at full force. His wife wants to divorce him to wed another man; his kids are no longer paying much attention to his faith; his job is presenting him difficulties; the neighbors are giving him something more to think about; and the rabbis who he seeks advice just don’t seem to help Larry deal with his crisis. If this isn’t enough to make a man desperate what is? Larry must seek answers for his dilemma; does he act on his temptation? Does he seek more help? A desperate Larry must find a solution.
I won’t lie, the first time I saw this film I was left wondering what I had just watched. It wasn’t an easy film to understand and grasp everything that is going on in the first watch. In fact, I watched this film three times and now I feel that I finally have some kind on understanding of the whole thing. The film moves on a slow pace following the life of Larry, but when Larry’s world suddenly changes, so does everything around him. When the protagonist is in a predicament or his life has stumble upon a road block and the feeling of hopelessness is surrounding him, the film follows right along with Larry. There is quite a bit of religious moments, but the Coens actually managed to avoid any preaching in the film. There’s even some space to continue the lifelong moral questions of why this and why that, questions that don’t really have an answer. As far as the production value is impeccable, the Coen Brothers went with the 60’s look and the results are perfect. The recreation of the world surrounding Larry is pin point perfect. I suppose this helped the film focus on Larry rather than his surroundings.
Sure, the complexity of some of the characters makes it difficult for some to grasp what the whole movie is about. For those who find themselves confused during the film there’s a supplements that can help get a better understanding. This is exactly how the Coen Brothers make their films, with slow pace, a certain amount of complexity, and complemented by a very anticlimactic ending. It’s their style, now the faster you embrace and begin to look at their films in a different perspective, the faster you will enjoy and appreciate the Coen’s magnificent film-making. I was greatly surprised by the film and I can say that I am eager to find out what they have for us next.
A Serious Man arrives on Blu-ray with an impressive 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 1.85:1. A Serious Man is absolutely gorgeous, where should I begin? The colors are vibrant, all of them are perfectly reproduced from red, orange, green, and even blacks all appear strong on the screen. The skin tones always appear natural with no over-saturation detected. The contrast is spot on with no complaints whatsoever. The fine details are carefully reproduced from actor close ups to skin textures is all well rendered. The image is clean and clear with no DNR or any other annoying “enhancements.” Universal has done a fantastic job with this Blu-ray release.
A Serious Man arrives on Blu-ray with an impressive 5.1 DTS-HD lossless audio track. The film deals with a lot of dialogue so you can see why this doesn’t sport a perfect score. However, don’t let it fool you, this audio mix is superb. Most of the film is very front heavy as I mentioned before there’s a lot of dialogue going on, but when the ruckus begins everything is crystal clear from the car crashes to the rabbi’s stories. Speaking of the dialogue, it is clean, clear and well prioritized even during scenes which the surroundings start to pick up. The rears subtlety introduces some ambiance and acoustic sounds that clearly make good company to the sound mix. I thought this was a great sounding mix I have no complaints and I do have to say that Universal did a great job on this one.
I was starting to get excited over what could be waiting for me in the extra features on the disc. To my surprise there were very few extras. I was hoping for a audio commentary with the director or something more, but I guess one can only hope. But please read below for the breakdown.
Becoming Serious – If you had a hard time understanding of the film’s characters this is a must for you. This featurette dissects the characters found within A Serious Man.
Creating 1967 – A look at the production, set design, costumes, etc. for the film.
Hebrew and Yiddish for Goys – A quick reference guide to the terminology used throughout the film.
BD-Live Functionality – Access online content like movie trailers and much more.
My Scenes – Save your favorite scenes and share them online.
This dark humorous film sticks truly to the way the Coen Brothers do things. The story is slow paced; characters can be a bit complex to some, and finally a great ending. The supplements are very disappointing offering very little after the credits start rolling. On the bright side, Universal has done a superb job with the audio and video transfers of A Serious Man. I enjoyed the film very much, but if you have seen other Coen Brothers’ directed films and didn’t like them, then you are probably going to find this one on the same ballpark as it has many of the same elements and techniques used from their previous films. I recommend at least a rent.