Walking into this movie, I only knew two things - it was by the Coen Brothers and a father who's family unravels around him was at the center.
I saw it on Tuesday, and it being Thursday, still am not sure how I really feel about the movie. It was expertly done - as these guys are at the top of their game right now. A friend of mine said, I think correctly, 'these are the guys our children will be studying in film school as masters.' Although this film is very different, it definitely holds true. What amazes me the most about those guys is that they operate on such a high level, across an enormous range of genres. It is astounding. And this is nothing like I've seen from them. One thing is certain - it is not a very uplifting movie. That is why I'm still perplexed about my feelings on it. But the more I think about it, the more I realize I am a huge fan.
A few of the character actors were recognizable, but for the most part this was a cast of unknowns. They do an amazing job of setting up this characer who is slowly unraveling. And then they pull the rug out from our expectations. As things continually mount against this man, we expect him to snap. To break out of his nebbish cocoon and become a man. But it never happens. He has a few moments, but he still retreats to who he is. And that is what I love the most about the film. It felt real... but usually when you use that term to describe what is essentially an arthouse film it doubles for 'boring'. But this film is far from boring, complete with the Coen's trademark humor throughout. Even when they lead you to think he's going to have sex with his ridiculous hot (and extremely sultry voiced) neighbor, it goes nowhere. Because he's a pussy.
It is definitely a recommend, but don't go in hoping for The Big Lebowski. Go in knowing that you might need some cheering up afterward.