Among the many themes to which Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man speaks so richly and suggestively, I will focus here on three that seem especially pertinent to our understandings of American Jewish identity, as well as to the academic practice of Jewish studies, and that exhibit the film's blend of complexity, clarity, and opacity. All three are closely related aspects of a larger question about the possibility of communication and, hence, of relation, but it should be useful to articulate them separately here. Each may be said to present, through the characters' interactions and the things they read and hear, its own question for judgment, but in no case does A Serious Man indicate how the viewer is to rule on that question.
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