M. Leary has a brilliant post up at Filmwell on A Serious Man, the latest film by the Coen brothers to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture. Here is the spoiler-filled note on which it ends:
If the central question of this film rotates on Schroedinger’s cat, the religious implication is this: If the tradition is the box, is God alive or is he dead? The answer being that we really can’t know. If the tradition is the box, then there is a sense in which both answers are correct. I suppose this matches the Coen Brother’s personal take on religion well, as A Serious Man becomes a great example of a classical modern description of religious language. It is both meaningful and meaningless at the same time. But they have been constructing this thought throughout the film in various ways, skillfully exemplified in the stoned kid’s reading of Torah, all the way until the end, at which point we seem to witness a hierophany of a prophetic sort and direct punitive judgment at the same time. Perfect Coen twist. (Is religious language meaningful? Is it? Really? Then comes a massive blast of effective religious language.)
Religion is a balance of existential crises. A Serious Man seems to suggest that we are at least able to choose which crisis we are willing to live with.