Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Almost: (Coen Brothers) What was promoted as "the best American movie of the year" proved, to me, nothing but a glimpse into the exploited sadness of a young Jewish family in the Midwest. The story is basically a middle aged college professor who begins to see his life unravel. His wife wants a divorce, his brother sleeps on their couch (indefinitely), a student bribes him and then threatens to sue for defamation, and someone is writing letter to the tenure board to prevent his promotion. He's got a lot going on, and there seems to be no one out there sympathizing with him. It's supposed to be funny - and most certainly it is from time to time. The utter nonsense of it all finds a chuckle and the ultimate frustration actor Michael Stuhlbarg is able to portray on his face conjures memories of animation and needs little else to pull response. Unfortunately, for me, the ridiculous storyline never crossed the line between ridiculous and "so ridiculous that it's hysterical." Instead, I found myself frustrated at such a wimpy character. Often measly personalities are endearing, because their potential is somehow revealed. Unfortunately, Stuhlbarg's Larry Gopnick is a lost cause. He literally has no balls, and as it seems, no interest in learning to grow them. People walk all over him, and if this no light at the end of the doormat tunnel is the best way the Coens can make fun of Jewish America, then I have seen enough. As a last effort to save opinions on this film, I'll admit full out that one with a little more knowledge of the Jewish faith will probably laugh much heartier - as I sat in the theatre, I no doubt found myself laughing at th "wrong" times and was apt to notice the head nods and singalongs dotted throughout the audience. These same viewers were the ones not ready to exit their seat at the end - so yes, I must have missed something. And, after giving up the chance to see Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel, I was expecting something a little more Fargo or O Brother.