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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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A priest reviews A Serious Man

Here's a spoiler-loaded reading of the Coens' masterpiece from Father Robert Barron, self-described "Catholic Evangelist." I don't know anything about Fr. Barron, but this is certainly a Catholic interpretation -- of the movie, of the book of Job, and of the Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love." Of course, I don't see the movie the way he does (and he doesn't even mention Larry's doctor or Schrödinger's cat or the... dybbuk?), but he does have some interesting ways of looking at it. I do like the way he understands how we reconsider the rabbis' counsel as the movie goes along.

And Fr. Barron makes one simple, important point that I think some people overlook: "No one in the movie disbelieves in God. It's not a question of is there a God or not. But they're trying to discern, what does God want? What is God doing?" That is correct. The film takes place in a world in which God is obviously not dead (although it's set not long after the TIME cover) because these people still believe Hashem is a presence in their lives -- if a somewhat distant one. Instead, God is either silent, indifferent, passive-aggressive, or nonexistent. The question, then, becomes not so much what God wants from these characters as what these characters want from the (unexamined?) vision of God that they cling to, and how are they going to square that faith with the day-to-day world they live in?

What do you think? And let's agree that all comments below are for people who've seen the movie...

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