A Serious Man/YMMV

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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  • Non Sequitur Scene: The film opens up with the story of a Jewish couple and a rabbi who may or may not be a dybbuk (a reanimated spirit in Judaism). This is not mentioned again afterwards; it's supposed to give a demonstration of the film's conflicts (faith vs. reason, etc.).

You could count most of the film as one of these: it's a kaleidoscope of angst-ridden Jewish whimsy. It's the accumulative effect of the recurring verbal symbolism (including the first scene) that gives the film depth. At a shallow glance it just seems like one utterly random scene after another, doubly so for the dream sequences.

  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • A common interpretation of this movie is that it is, at least in part, a modern retelling of the Book of Job from the Old Testament. How does Job end? God appears to him in the form of a whirlwind. Doubles as Viewers Are Geniuses.
    • As discussed here, excluding the prologue, the first and second half of the film are reflections of one another.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Despite the absence of random acts of violence or Ax Crazy Complete Monsters, this is still arguably one of the scariest of the Coens' films due to its thematic implications: bad things happening to good people for no reason, and the suggestion of a God who is both merciless and utterly incomprehensible.
    • To a lesser extent, the prologue. Though nothing openly frightening happens, it's left a lot of viewers (including this troper) very uneasy.
  • Role Association: