A Serious Man (2009)
Larry Gopnik is a serious man with serious problems. In this black comedy that reinvents the biblical Job, directors Ethan and Joel Coen explore whether he can hope for any answers. Larry's respectable Jewish life as a physics professor has blown apart. A student tries to bribe him and then threatens to sue for defamation, while a tenure committee debates his fate. His next door neighbor is a scowling anti-semite. His son Danny smokes dope and watches TV, his foul-mouthed daughter Sarah wants a nose job, their crazy uncle Arthur hogs the bathroom, and his wife Judith has kicked him out of the house and into the Jolly Roger motel in favor of their best friend. He has "lost track of Hashem," the unspeakable Name of God. The film follow's Larry's search for wisdom with three successive rabbis. The problem seems to be that "you can't know, but you're still held responsible." Visual metaphors for Larry's confusion abound — a dry and blighted swimming pool at the decrepit motel, arcane math equations that fill every centimeter of a blackboard, horrifying nightmares, twisting a TV antenna on the roof to find a clear signal, dope-induced blurry vision, ominous x-rays from the doctor, an outrageously absurd "sign" from God, and, in the last minute of the film, a black tornado about to tear through town. The lyrics of Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane begin and end the film: "When the truth is found to be lies, and all the hope within you dies."