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
The names of the characters who ride the school bus with Danny Gopnik are the names of children that the Coen brothers grew up with. See more »
Danny is called up as Maftir, the last reader for that weekly Torah portion. However, what he actually reads is the beginning of Parashat Behar, which is read by the first reader, not the last. The first reader would typically be a "cohen", a descendant of Aaron, the High Priest and brother of Moses. In light of their family name, it is reasonable to assume that the Coen brothers are themselves "cohanim". See more »
I just saw this film earlier today and I have to say that it was simply thrilling. Now how can I possible say that it was thrilling when there were zero action scenes, zero suspense, and zero plot? To me, it's exactly because it lacks those things that makes this film thrilling! If you are reading through these IMDb reviews, you already know the general premise of the movie and have likely seen the preview, and so knowing that it is a Coen brothers movie you probably know what kind of film to expect.
One of the things I really love about this film (which others may hate) is because it basically has no plot, and is simply 90 minutes of one middle-aged man's struggles in life, with no type of resolution whatsoever. The tone and slow pacing of the film reminded me a great deal of the film "Sideways(2004)" in that we just see an average guy's struggles with the people in his life, with some comedic moments thrown in occasionally to break the overall depressing mood of the film. Like that film, you are so able to relate to the main character and his problems because his issues and the people he has issues with are so genuine.
And that's exactly why I call this review "a serious look at human nature." All of the great satire is in fact based closely on reality, or realistic events that we can relate to. In this film, the main character's issues are so average and normal (divorce, teenage son experimenting with pot, possible job advancement/work stability, etc.) that they are parts of almost everyone's everyday life. Even the interactions and subplots with the Asian student and the hunting neighbors are so very realistic, which aids in making them hilarious. Even if you are not Jewish, you will still be able to relate to and understand the satire in this film. Some moviegoers with short attention spans will probably hate this film and wonder when the big, explosive fight scene will be or when the Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell stupid fart/gay jokes will start appearing...but of course this film is the exact opposite of typical Hollywood.
Another reason why I am giving this film such a high score is because while watching this film it is clear just how much the Coen brothers simply LOVE making films, and they are only concerned with making the film their way. They don't care about box office profits or a target demographic...they just make films that are personal to them. It's just so refreshing to see. Just look at the attention to detail they will put into one scene of dialogue between characters. Look at the way the glasses' on someone's face are angled, the way the characters' hair is just a tiny bit messy, the way a character holds his yamaka in place while running, the way the lines are set-up and timed perfectly to have the perfect effect on the audience. When you watch this you can just see how dedicated they are to their craft. These guys care so much about creating little details and endearing characters and so little about any kind of recycled plot. Hats off to the Coen boys once again! Shalom!
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