Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Look at A Serious Man

A group of us mothers have been walking around the reservoir on Sat. morns. After our walk last week, Julie S. and I began discussing "A Serious Man," the new Coen Brothers' film, based loosely on their lives growing up in Minneapolis during the sixties.  We found we'd both been unnerved by seeing our Jewish childhood up on the screen: the paranoia, the goyim neighbors, that whole world-unto-itself mentality, the sexy temptress lurking next door. J's husband thought that scene was over the top—the temptress seducing the protagonist with marijuana—but J remembers her mother had a friend just like that. Which got me thinking about Gloria Cole, a friend of my parents' back in Louisville, the sexiest woman in their circle. Gloria had teased-to-perfection peroxide blonde hair, gargantuan tits, tight 60's cocktail dresses, stiletto heels... and a husband named Leonard.

One night, a few years ago, Gloria showed up in my dream, still young still shapely, attending a party for my father. Everyone was socializing, Gloria knocking the men out cold with her figure, except for my father who sat up on stage covered in a wool blanket, with one bulging furious eye peeking out at the crowd. That one eye bulging out so reminds me of this film: how Jews of a certain age look out through the metaphoric kitchen window —Larry Gopnik is always peeking out at the goys next door— and feel the weight of their accursed history upon them, fearing the worst.

Postscript: Immediately after seeing the film (which was torturous to watch, but, given the Coen brothers' ability to capture angst, quite enjoyable), my right eye imploded with a flashing white light, and the next day I had floaters. I looked online and found that floaters are caused by degeneration of the vitreus gel or head trauma. I'm thinking head trauma. Your thoughts?


  1. I haven't seen this film yet, but I'm struck by how exposed you felt by this representation of your childhood. From what I understand, it's the Coen brothers' most personal film to date. Have you read The Chosen? Lots of eye imagery in that one too.

  2. I would like to know more why the movie reminds you some much about your (US) Jewish childhood and about the metaphoric kitchen window. I love the anecdote about Gloria...

  3. I'm not familiar with the film. It's interesting that it reminds you of your childhood. Your comments made me want to know more about the typical Jewish childhood/upbringing.