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
Red Owl was a real Midwest grocery store chain, with several stores in the Twin Cities area, including the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington mentioned in the movie. The Red Owl sign used in an exterior scene in the movie was a genuine antique, which unfortunately was accidentally dropped and destroyed after filming. See more »
Larry Gopnik teaches at a suburban college, but all of the mail he receives in his office is addressed to the zip code 55401. This zip code is in downtown Minneapolis, not the suburbs. See more »
I saw this movie at TIFF on Saturday. The Coens quietly (and I mean quietly - no-one could hear even their amplified voices) introduced the movie with reference to the actors present but not the movie, letting it speak for itself. And it did. In its own way. It is an off-beat (what else?) and serious work that radiates bleak despair while searching for a funny bone. In the process, the movie makes other black comedies look positively light and airy. The movie evokes laughs from a different place than most from a profound discomfort watching people twist themselves this way and that to fit in and be regarded seriously, whether situationally, socially or religiously. A great piece of work that will have you thinking long afterwards, especially considering the odd and difficult-to-contextualize prologue and, um different, ending which bookend a remarkable work.
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