07 January 2012
Screenplay: A Serious Man
This week, I read A Serious Man by Joel and Ethan Coen. Due to time constraints, I only got to half of it, but plan on finishing it this coming week. The first thing I noticed is that there are no scene headings, at least, not in the way I'm used to seeing them. Even though it threw me off at first, I was never confused. The progress of the story and where the action takes place is always clear. It also gave the screenplay this weird sort of flow that I don't think I've ever experienced before when reading a screenplay.
That flow may be what contributes to the screenplays "unputdownableness". It's something we talk about a lot with books and it absolutely applies to this screenplay. Time was the only reason I didn't finish reading it this week, and I literally had to force myself to stop reading every night before bed. It's been a while since I've seen the movie, but this translated into "I can't look away" when filmed.
This is especially important, because the scenes in this movie are long. I've noticed that most screenplays I read have scenes of about 2-3 pages, longer for really important moments, but generally most scenes are short and to the point. The first scene in this screenplay was 8 pages long, did not directly relate to the main characters or storyline, and is in a foreign language with subtitles but yet... I loved it. The scene, like the rest of the script, was able to present something sad in a straightforward way that somehow made it funny.
I'm looking forward to finishing this script next week and I hope to recreate a screenplay reading habit. In the mean time, check out the trailer for this film: