At the end of Coen Bros family/existential drama A Serious Man, we leave our “hero” Larry Gopnik, having just 1) been awarded tenure and 2) changed a student’s grade in exchange for money, with 3) ominous but unclear news from his doctor, and 2) a son trying to pay back a thug but being chased down by a tornado.
In other words, it’s all loose ends. There is arguably some thematic resolution—that is, you can kind of say justice is being served (though only if you believe in a cruel kind of justice (which, given the Coen’s other films, one might suspect))—but the action is quite alive, still building, when the curtain drops.
And yet, and yet… And yet I knew exactly when it would end. I remember quite clearly inhaling sharply and feeling that perfect-ending tingle right before the screen went dark. How did they manage to create such an unconventional ending and at the same time signal to me, the viewer, that the ending was imminent?
If you’ve seen A Serious Man, what did you think of the end? If you haven’t seen the movie, does what I write above make sense with regard to any other movie you can think of? Mid-action, or in some other way surprising, ending that nonetheless feel perfectly timed?