A Serious Man

A Serious Man

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The three featurettes on the DVD release are a perfect accompaniment to the main feature - and all are fully subtitled. Becoming Serious, sees all the 'main players' talk about the inception of the story. Joel (the slightly hairy one) and Ethan are not known for their loquaciousness, but they are on form here, revealing that the film stemmed from the idea of the 'stoned bar mitzvah' but grew to be more about the father than the son. The 'wizard-like' Rabbi that Danny speaks to after his bar mitzvah is, they say, based on a Rabbi from their childhood who "said nothing but had a lot of charisma".

The cast and Coens talk about the film over some nice making of footage and set stills, and it's interesting to hear them touch on the importance of the Tora lifting - especially for a gentile.

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Also enjoyable for non-Yiddish speaker is the brief Hebrew And Yiddish For Goys glossary that's also included. Snippets from the film are played, with definitions running underneath - so if you've ever wanted to break the ice at parties with a reference to the the tsuris (troubles) with goys (gentiles), this should help you on your way.

The last of the featurettes, Creating 1967, features lots more on-set footage and gives the crew a chance to talk about their roles. There are contributions from costume designer Mary Zophres - whose mantra for the extras was: "Pull up your pants, tuck your shirt in - and production designer Jess Gonchor, who provides a tour of the set. Special effects head honcho Larz Anderson is also onhand to explain how they created the pulsating brain used in the sci-fi show Danny watches at one point.

What emerges is a willingness to go the extra mile to create good period detail, from adding aerials to roofs, to wrangling cars from the right period and even going so far as to remove the tree line to give the suburban estate a 'newly built' feel.

Of course, the Coens are, throughout, suitably enigmatic about the "meaning" of the film, but then what do you expect. As one of the cast puts it: "Joel and Ethan present it. You get to think about it."

Reviewed on: 17 Mar 2010
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A Serious Man packshot
Black comedy about a professor whose life starts to unravel.
Amazon link

Product Code: 827 533 9

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Becoming Serious, Creating 196, Hebrew And Yiddish For Goys


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