....Having watched this and let it settle in my psyche for the best part of a day, I am still no clearer as to what it is that I have actually just seen.
Ostensibly, I liked the film. The slow, brooding pace, the attention to detail, the incredible clarity and cinematography, the relatively unknown cast - creating a greater need to engage with them, the wickedly funny moments set against the cruelly dark.....all added up to enjoyment.
But from the offset, there is also an uncomfortable presence that left me thinking - just what is this all about and what could have led the Cohen brothers to have made it? This is largely owing to the first ten minutes, where the film opens with a mysterious sequence in a 19th-century Polish shtetl. From there the action cuts to the middle of a brewing mid-life crisis for Larry Gopnik, (played by Michael Stuhlbarg). A physics professor whose wife is unhappy and soon to leave him, whose brother is dysfunctional and lives under his roof and whose children bicker, as one prepares for his imminent barmitzvah.
As the reality of his life unfolds, it in fact seems so unreal to Gopnick himself, that he digs deeper in to his faith and believes only the highest and eldest Rabbi can help solve his problems. But ultimately, we begin to learn that this help remains elusive and are left to ponder, (as indeed is Gopnick), as to his enduring fate - the film closing on him receiving a call regarding some x-ray results that he's avoided for so long.
I would like to watch this film again. Perhaps even a third time to help me get to grips with it's complex underbelly. It's left me both satisfied and desperately seeking answers. It is strange and wonderful, but mysterious and elusive. You need to see this for yourselves, if only to witness the Cohen brothers at their beguiling and baffling best.