Diane Paulus on Ethan and Joel Coen

Director pair receives praise for 'A Serious Man'

The Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” is a brilliant illustration of the mid­century collision of Jewish ethnicity and the American dream. The Coens’ nightmarish suburban world is rich with dynamic characters and stunning imagery. In the absurd but deeply personal landscape of the film, melding religious tradition with materialist culture leads to questions about the blurring of good and evil, life and death — the meaning of existence. The cultural shake-up of the 1960s, which has intrigued me in my own work, provides an ironic background for the Coen brothers’ characters, who deny responsibility and passively ask “Why me?” (The only hint of the intensity of the 1960s counterculture in the Coens’ blank suburbia is Jefferson Airplane’s insistent “Don’t You Want Somebody to Love?” snuck in through a teenager’s iPod precursor.) “A Serious Man,” with phenomenal Coen direction, is an outstanding American gothic anthem for the ’60s.

Diane Paulus helmed the current Broadway revival of “Hair.” She is also artistic director at American Repertory Theater.

More Scene

  • Issa Rae, Natasha Rothwell and Yvonne

    'Insecure' Season 3 to Introduce New 'Timely' Show Within The Show

    The Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” is a brilliant illustration of the mid­century collision of Jewish ethnicity and the American dream. The Coens’ nightmarish suburban world is rich with dynamic characters and stunning imagery. In the absurd but deeply personal landscape of the film, melding religious tradition with materialist culture leads to questions about the […]

  • Ryan Murphy Pose

    Ryan Murphy on 'Showrunning as Advocacy' and the Post-Me Too 'Age of Enlightenment'

    The Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” is a brilliant illustration of the mid­century collision of Jewish ethnicity and the American dream. The Coens’ nightmarish suburban world is rich with dynamic characters and stunning imagery. In the absurd but deeply personal landscape of the film, melding religious tradition with materialist culture leads to questions about the […]

  • 'The Sinner' film premiere

    Jessica Biel Closes Her Kid-Friendly Au Fudge Restaurant

    The Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” is a brilliant illustration of the mid­century collision of Jewish ethnicity and the American dream. The Coens’ nightmarish suburban world is rich with dynamic characters and stunning imagery. In the absurd but deeply personal landscape of the film, melding religious tradition with materialist culture leads to questions about the […]

  • Comedy Converstion with L to R:

    Just for Laughs Festival Honors Tiffany Haddish, Hannah Gadsby, More

    The Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” is a brilliant illustration of the mid­century collision of Jewish ethnicity and the American dream. The Coens’ nightmarish suburban world is rich with dynamic characters and stunning imagery. In the absurd but deeply personal landscape of the film, melding religious tradition with materialist culture leads to questions about the […]

  • Paul Krassner Memoir Illustration

    Paul Krassner on Resisting With Humor

    The Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” is a brilliant illustration of the mid­century collision of Jewish ethnicity and the American dream. The Coens’ nightmarish suburban world is rich with dynamic characters and stunning imagery. In the absurd but deeply personal landscape of the film, melding religious tradition with materialist culture leads to questions about the […]

  • Just for Laughs Festival Montreal

    Just for Laughs Festival Is the Coachella of Comedy

    The Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” is a brilliant illustration of the mid­century collision of Jewish ethnicity and the American dream. The Coens’ nightmarish suburban world is rich with dynamic characters and stunning imagery. In the absurd but deeply personal landscape of the film, melding religious tradition with materialist culture leads to questions about the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content