The Coens for Lent – The Ladykillers

The eleventh of nineteen reflections on the Coen Brothers’ filmography and the season of Lent. [View Series]

Time in the wilderness is a time of discomfort that prepares us for something better – for the Israelites, it was the promised land, for Jesus his ministry.

In Lent, we lean into that discomfort, that trial, to mold us into people who are prepared for the burden, the calling, of what comes next. We fly through the storm to find the eye. The sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning. We give up things that distract or bring comfort to learn to depend on God.

We write reflections on movies we really don’t like, so that we can complete the series.

Ok, maybe that one’s just me.

For Theophany, I try not to write about films I dislike. I find that the negative critical voice is not needed here, when it can be found so ubiquitously everywhere else. The one exception was, of course, Cats, which I used as an opportunity to reflect on how to talk Christianly about bad movies.

The good and the bad of the Coens is on full display here. Their penchant for dark comedy, the ability to elicit unexpected performances from actors, dramatic irony, and destiny, are here loosely draped over a problematic, even racist, core. This movie is mean-spirited toward its only likable characters, and doesn’t even allow them to be the main characters.

But we press on. These last three film are easily my three least favorite, the wilderness through which I wander before finally reaching the promised land, the Coens’ masterpeice, No Country For Old Men. But of course, like the Israelites who would go on to squander the promised land, I allowed another writer to take on that one. We never learn.

Fittingly, this will be the worst post of this series – because sometimes Lent is about giving the worst of yourself instead of giving up. Maybe that’s what the Coens needed to do before making one of the greatest films of all time. Either way, I hope this post is as forgotten as The Ladykillers, and that we are all remembered for our better days, even if they were only made possible by our lesser ones.

[See all entries in “The Coens for Lent” series]

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