So, I watched A Serious Man recently. I started it Thursday and finished it Friday. I liked the first hour.... and then I got irritated, and cut it off for a while. When I came back to it the next day, I was really impatient. What the hell is going on, I wondered? and when is whatever's going on, just going to END?
I admit there were moments along the way I really loved, elements I thought were great. I really liked Michael Stuhlburg, the actor who played Larry Gopnik. I LOVED Mrs. Samsky. I thought Sy Ableman was a wonderfully horrible character. I enjoyed the references to F Troop, which I vaguely remember liking when I was a little girl. I loved when the rabbi started quoting Grace Slick at the end. And there was something about the look of the film that I found quite compelling.
But the end? I had heard that it didn't really have an end, that it just STOPPED. And sure enough, it didn't really have an end; it just stopped. I was so irritated that I cut it off before the credits, which I typically watch.
And then, about ten minutes later, the meaning of the ending hit me, and I just started laughing, because I got it, and because it was perfect. I have been thinking about it all day, remembering the entire movie in a different light, and now I wish I hadn't already sent it back to Netflix so I could watch it again.
If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to read any spoilers, don't click on the "continue reading" link. Instead, just watch this terrific cartoon version of Job:
but if you want the details of the epiphany I had about the end, read on:
The movie ends with Job--er, Larry--getting a call from his doctor, asking him to come in for a chat about some x-rays taken a few weeks earlier. While this is going on, his son, Danny, and the other kids at Hebrew school, are being shepherded into the basement of the synagogue because a tornado is approaching. There's a horrible black cloud blotting out most of the horizon, a really nasty, mean, destructive-looking storm that is headed straight for this place. The kids stare at it, afraid, but not as afraid as they should be, because that storm is going to seriously FUCK THEM UP.
And then the movie ends.
What the fuck? I said.
And then, the fuck became clear: the fuck is god. God the father is God the fuck.
The cloud is god. The storm is god. God is what fucks you up, and it can do a damn good job. The story of Job ends with God the Father speaking to Job out of a whirlwind. GtF explains that he doesn't have to explain himself, and Job cowers before him, and then everything Job lost is restored to him, and he lives happily ever after.
Once I knew that, the rest of the ending made sense. The problems with the x-rays? They're the boils Satan was allowed to smite Job with after GtF gave his permission, but GtF specified that Satan couldn't kill Job, so we know Larry won't die. Everything else will be returned too. It's hard to want Larry to get back together with his horrible wife, but maybe things will work out with Mrs. Samsky....
And I just LOVE that depiction of GtF as a nasty black midwestern tornado. It totally kicks the ass of the guy on the Sistine Chapel, if you ask me. I seriously feel that that movie was the best, most meaningful bit of theology I have encountered in years. It made the concept of god real to me in ways nothing else ever has.
From now on, God's name is GtF and the mental image of GtF I carry in my mind is that black cloud.