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A Serious Man (2009)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  6 November 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 94,377 users   Metascore: 79/100
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Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern physics teacher, watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking meaning and answers amidst his turmoils, he seems to keep sinking.




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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 27 wins & 49 nominations. See more awards »



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Jessica McManus ...
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Benjamin Portnoe ...
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Bloomington, Minnesota, 1967: Jewish physics lecturer Larry Gopnik is a serious and a very put-upon man. His daughter is stealing from him to save up for a nose job, his pot-head son, who gets stoned at his own bar-mitzvah, only wants him round to fix the TV aerial and his useless brother Arthur is an unwelcome house guest. But both Arthur and Larry get turfed out into a motel when Larry's wife Judy, who wants a divorce, moves her lover, Sy, into the house and even after Sy's death in a car crash they are still there. With lawyers' bills mounting for his divorce, Arthur's criminal court appearances and a land feud with a neighbour Larry is tempted to take the bribe offered by a student to give him an illegal exam pass mark. And the rabbis he visits for advice only dole out platitudes. Still God moves in mysterious - and not always pleasant - ways, as Larry and his family will find out. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexuality/nudity and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

6 November 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un hombre serio  »

Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$251,337 (USA) (2 October 2009)


$9,190,525 (USA) (1 January 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Comedian Marc Maron tested for the lead role. See more »


Larry Gopnik is writing an equation on the board in class. At one point he writes delta p equals the square root of ^2 - ^2 which would be zero, but the correct equation has the squared inside the bracket in the first term under the square root: ^2-^2. This is an equation for the root mean square deviation of momentum in Heisenberg's uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. Later in the scene, after the students leave and Sy Ableman appears, the equation is in the correct form. See more »


[first lines]
Shtetl Husband: What a marvel... what a marvel.
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Crazy Credits

[pre-credits title] "Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you." - Rashi See more »


Featured in The 82nd Annual Academy Awards (2010) See more »


3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds
Written by Marty Balin
Performed by Jefferson Airplane
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label
By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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User Reviews

Major players deconstructing the film-making paradigm
2 December 2009 | by (Brighton, England) – See all my reviews

I suppose the first thing that needs to be said is that I'm not Jewish and, as such, a lot of what was obviously a deeply personal movie went over my head, and I was left feeling like an outsider, almost a voyeur.

However, perhaps as a result of this I'm able to view the film more objectively. Visually, it is beautiful. There are so many perfectly framed scenes that even when the story seems to drag it keeps you captivated.

Having said that, for me, it did drag. The central figure was a neurotic, cerebral, awkward, middle aged Jewish man. Not entirely a cinematic first. Add to this the fact that he was possibly the most passive character in cinematic history - he literally made no decisions in the entire movie until the final scene. Instead he was drawn from one catastrophe to another, on the basis that he was a good, upstanding man surrounded by stronger people.

Normally in this situation we would see the character challenged and grow, but this is the Coen brothers, so it's not going to be that simple. Instead,,we are left to squirm at the relentless nature of the man's incessant failings - a frustrating experience, particularly if you're not privy to the Jewish humour that pervades this intimate film.

It seemed to me almost as if the Coen Brothers were seeing how far they can stretch their high profile. With No Country For Old Men they robbed us of the pivotal, climactic scene and I for one left feeling cheated. Here they simply don't introduce it at all. They break every story paradigm there is, as if to suggest that they are now so great they can present a piece that has no development, no conclusion, a prologue that seems to have no relevance to the main body of the work, and no redemptive quality to extract from any of the characters. A bit like real life I suppose. But who wants to see that on a forty foot screen?

I need to lay down.

238 of 437 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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