Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA/United Kingdom/France, 2009. Focus Features, StudioCanal, Relativity Media, Mike Zoss Productions, Working Title Films. Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. Cinematography by Roger Deakins. Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen. Music by Carter Burwell. Production Design by Jess Gonchor. Costume Design by Mary Zophres. Film Editing by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen.
Larry Gopnik’s quiet life as a physics professor is going perfectly well until things begin to unravel in record time. His gambling-addicted, unemployable brother (Richard Kind) has moved in with the family and is driving everyone crazy, Gopnik’s wife reacts by announcing that she’s leaving him for another man, his son’s behavioural issues in Hebrew school are making him a disciplinary problem, and his daughter is stealing money from his wallet to save up for a nose job. Car accidents, sexy neighbours, a disgruntled student with the intent to bribe, and a whole slew of wild events happen to a Jewish family in a peaceful Midwestern town in his highly stylized but emotionally sterile film from the Coen Brothers.
The film features a strong element of sophisticated comedy and incredibly good acting, but where is the sympathy and humour that made us cling so much to the protagonists of movies like Fargo and Raising Arizona? This one encompasses both the best of a Coen brothers experience, the gorgeously memorable images, and very worst from movies like Miller’s Crossing, a plot that sags under the weight of its own cleverness and never solidifies enough to make for compelling viewing.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Picture; Best Original Screenplay
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Michael Stuhlbarg)
Toronto International Film Festival: 2009