Broadly, this is a film about mystery, about whether there is or isn’t cause for suffering, injustice, bad luck. It’s a film resolutely free of answers yet filled with questions and frustrations, and thus even without the wonderful opening sequence this is the Coen’s most Hebraic film yet.
Set in the late 60s of Minnesota, their production evokes a time of manicured lawns, school bullies, and the emergence of Jefferson Airplane as insight into the Mishna. The performances from a across-the-board cast are superb (Richard Kind is really the only “name” actor I was aware of, save for the inimitable Fyvish Finkel!), evoking the insanity of being part of the Jewish community of a Midwestern suburb.
This twisted, brilliant Job-sian myth is densely constructed, and its humour may be too dry for those looking for the broadness of a Fargo, Raising Arizona or even Oh Brother, but there are moments that are of such sublime humor and intelligence that it echoes Lebowski. And that, naturally, is high praise indeed.