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A Serious Man
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A Serious Man (2009) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 55 | slideshow) Videos (see all 8)
A Serious Man -- Academy Award winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen return to their comedy roots with this darkly humorous story about one ordinary man's quest to become a serious man.
A Serious Man -- A black comedy set in 1967 and centered on on Larry Gopnik (Stuhlbarg), a Midwestern professor who watches his life unravel when his wife prepares to leave him because his inept brother (Kind) won't move out of the house.
A Serious Man -- A clip from the movie A Serious Man.
A Serious Man -- Interview: Fred Melamed "On Larry, Judith and Sy"
A Serious Man -- A clip from the movie A Serious Man.


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Down 6% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers (WGA):
Joel Coen (written by) &
Ethan Coen (written by)
View company contact information for A Serious Man on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
9 October 2009 (Denmark) See more »
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 27 wins & 49 nominations See more »
(1534 articles)
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User Reviews:
Natural and excellent next step for the Coens' cerebral probing of life's toughest questions See more (313 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Michael Stuhlbarg ... Larry Gopnik

Richard Kind ... Uncle Arthur

Fred Melamed ... Sy Ableman

Sari Lennick ... Judith Gopnik

Aaron Wolff ... Danny Gopnik
Jessica McManus ... Sarah Gopnik

Peter Breitmayer ... Mr. Brandt
Brent Braunschweig ... Mitch Brandt
David Kang ... Clive Park
Benjamin Portnoe ... Danny's Reefer Buddy
Jack Swiler ... Boy on Bus
Andrew S. Lentz ... Cursing Boy on Bus
Jon Kaminski Jr. ... Mike Fagle

Ari Hoptman ... Arlen Finkle

Alan Mandell ... Rabbi Marshak

Amy Landecker ... Mrs. Samsky

George Wyner ... Rabbi Nachtner
Michael Tezla ... Dr. Sussman

Katherine Borowitz ... Friend at the Picnic

Steve Park ... Clive's Father (as Stephen Park)

Allen Lewis Rickman ... Shtetl Husband
Yelena Shmulenson ... Shtetl Wife

Fyvush Finkel ... Dybbuk?
Ronald Schultz ... Hebrew School Teacher
Raye Birk ... Dr. Shapiro

Jane Hammill ... Larry's Secretary
Claudia Wilkens ... Marshak's Secretary

Simon Helberg ... Rabbi Scott

Adam Arkin ... Divorce Lawyer
James Cada ... Cop #1 (as Jim Cada)

Michael Lerner ... Solomon Schlutz
Charles Brin ... Hebrew School Principal
Michael Engel ... Torah Blesser
Tyson Bidner ... Magbiah
Phyllis Harris ... Hebrew School Tea Lady
Piper Sigel-Bruse ... D'vorah (as Piper Sigel Bruse)
Hannah Nemer ... Sarah's Friend
Rita Vassallo ... Law Firm Secretary
Warren Keith ... Dick Dutton (as Warren David Keith)
Neil Newman ... Cantor

Tim Russell ... Detective #1
Jim Lichtscheidl ... Detective #2
Wayne A. Evenson ... Russell Krauss (as Wayne Evenson)
Scott Thompson Baker ... Sci-Fi Movie Hero (as Scott Baker)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Landyn Banx ... Physics Student (uncredited)
Alana Bloom ... Physics Student (uncredited)
Stephanie Bright ... Physics Student (uncredited)
Rita Cannon ... Physics Student (uncredited)
Matt Cici ... Physics Student (uncredited)

David Cohen ... Bar Mitzvah Guest (uncredited)
Amanda Day ... Physics Student (uncredited)
Devon A Early ... Physics Student (uncredited)

John Edel ... 1960s Beach Party Attendee (uncredited)
Jon Foss ... Physics Student (uncredited)

Arne Gjelten ... Physics Student (uncredited)

Rachel Grubb ... Bar Mitzvah Guest (uncredited)

Sherilyn Henderson ... Neighborhood Kid (uncredited)

Punnavith Koy ... Physics Nerd (uncredited)
Andrew Kraft ... Physics Nerd (uncredited)

Nicole Kruex ... Physics Student (uncredited)
Katherine Loudenslager ... Hostess (uncredited)
Tammara Melloy ... Mom on the beach (uncredited)
Lauri Mueller ... Bar Mitzvah and Funeral Guest (uncredited)

Helen Murray ... Grocery Store Patron (uncredited)
Lisa Pechmiller ... Bar Mitzvah Guest (uncredited)
Asher Pink ... Bar Mitzvah Guest (uncredited)
Lisa-Lou Rosenberg ... Bar Mitzvah and Funeral Guest (uncredited)
Benjamin Terry ... College student (uncredited)
Joel Thingvall ... Bar Mitzvah Guest (uncredited)
Steve Wothe ... Bar Mitzvah and Funeral Guest (uncredited)

Directed by
Ethan Coen 
Joel Coen 
Writing credits
Joel Coen (written by) &
Ethan Coen (written by)

Produced by
Tim Bevan .... executive producer
Ethan Coen .... producer
Joel Coen .... producer
Eric Fellner .... executive producer
Robert Graf .... executive producer
Original Music by
Carter Burwell 
Cinematography by
Roger Deakins (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Ethan Coen  (as Roderick Jaynes)
Joel Coen  (as Roderick Jaynes)
Casting by
Ellen Chenoweth 
Rachel Tenner 
Production Design by
Jess Gonchor 
Art Direction by
Deborah Jensen 
Set Decoration by
Nancy Haigh 
Costume Design by
Mary Zophres 
Makeup Department
Fríða Aradóttir .... hair department head (as Fríða S. Aradóttir)
Jean Ann Black .... makeup department head (as Jean A. Black)
Jean Ann Black .... makeup designer (as Jean A. Black)
Mary Flaa .... co-makeup department head (as Mary K Flaa)
Deanna Johnson .... assistant hair stylist (as Deanna L. Johnson)
Carrie Messina .... assistant makeup artist
Christien Tinsley .... age effects makeup
Maureen Landa .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Maureen Landa .... makeup continuity (uncredited)
Cara Sophia Tollefson .... makeup artist day player (uncredited)
Brenda Torre .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Catherine Farrell .... post-production supervisor
Karen Ruth Getchell .... production supervisor
Robert Graf .... unit production manager
Michelle Wright .... executive in charge of production: Working Title
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Bac DeLorme .... second assistant director
Betsy Magruder .... first assistant director
Terrence B. Zinn .... second second assistant director
Dave Halls .... additional second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
J. Todd Anderson .... pen grappler
Steve Anderson .... construction coordinator
Maria L. Baker .... set designer (as Maria Baker)
Benjamin Bayne .... scenic gang boss
Jill Broadfoot .... art department buyer
John C. Cameron .... assistant property master (as John Cameron)
John Alan Champion .... prop maker (as John A. Champion)
Mark Edmo .... prop maker
Matt Erkel .... prop maker
Faith Farrell .... scenic artist
Windy Fleischaker .... scenic artist
David Franicola .... prop maker
Garrett Fulton .... prop maker
Bradley G. Grasser .... prop maker (as Bradley 'Wiszard' Grasser)
Wayne Grimsbud .... scenic
Wayne Grimsrud .... scenic artist
Andrew Gustafson .... painter
Cate Hahneman .... art department production assistant
Donavan M. Hake .... construction gang boss
Kemper Harris .... on-set greensman
David K. Hartman .... prop maker
Eric Helmin .... art department intern
Kelly Hemenway .... construction gang boss (as Kelly Rae Hemenway)
Gregory Hill .... graphic designer
Luther Hill .... painter
Steven Hintz .... prop maker
Anne Hyvarinen .... lead scenic artist
Matt Joyer .... swing gang
Jim Kindt .... greensman
Brian Koehn .... prop maker
Sarah Kruchowski .... swing gang
Janet Lobberecht .... greens gang boss
Quentin Matthys .... swing gang
Sam McGlynn .... art department asset production assistant (as Sahm McGlynn)
Jarrette Moats .... art department coordinator
Scott Nordhausen .... on-set dresser
Patrick L. Owen .... construction gang boss (as Pat Owen)
Dennis J. Perry .... prop maker
Sarah Regan .... stand-by painter
Keith Reitmeier .... prop maker
Brian Rhea .... prop maker
Renee T. Schendel .... scenic artist
Jeff Schoen .... assistant art director
Hans Schumacher .... scenic artist
Shannon M. Schumacher .... scenic artist
Bryan Shelley .... props assistant
Brian J. Simpson .... swing gang (as Brian Simpson)
Gary Surber .... construction gang boss (as Gary C. Surber)
Dwight C. Swanson .... construction gang boss
Ryan Tallant .... swing gang
Chris Thickins .... swing gang
Scott Troha .... lead dresser
Phil Vandervaart .... signwriter
Mike Wallien .... construction foreman
Rob Walstead .... swing gang
Keith Walters .... property master
Pat Wilson .... construction utility
Mark Wojahn .... head greensman
Stephanie Jean Elmer .... art department coordinator (uncredited)
Steven Hintz .... carpenter (uncredited)
Sound Department
Phil Barrie .... first assistant sound editor
Chris C. Benson .... utility sound (as Chris Benson)
Craig Berkey .... sound designer
Craig Berkey .... sound re-recording mixer
Ken Chastain .... adr engineer
Johnna Chism .... assistant sound editor
Marko A. Costanzo .... foley artist
Joel Dougherty .... foley editor
Josh Frieser .... looping
Kenton Jakub .... adr editor
Randall L. Johnson .... boom operator (as Randy Johnson)
Peter F. Kurland .... sound mixer
George A. Lara .... foley mixer
Skip Lievsay .... sound re-recording mixer
Skip Lievsay .... supervising sound editor
James Morioka .... dialogue editor
Greg Orloff .... sound re-recording mixer
Byron Wilson .... dialogue editor
Peter Zimbicki .... additional sound utility
Eric Harwood .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Jason Oliver .... adr recordist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Larz Anderson .... special effects coordinator
Paul Deely .... special effects foreman
Steven Hintz .... special effects crew (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Oliver Arnold .... cg supervisor: Luma Pictures
Andy Burmeister .... junior compositor: Luma Pictures
Alexandre Cancado .... lead compositor: Luma Pictures
John Cassella .... senior visual effects artist: Luma Pictures
Vincent Cirelli .... visual effects supervisor: Luma Pictures
J. John Corbett .... lead digital artist: Big Film Design
Katie Godwin .... visual effects coordinator: Luma Pictures
Anthony Grant .... matte painter: Luma Pictures
Steve Griffith .... visual effects producer: Luma Pictures
Jennifer Gutierrez .... junior compositor: Luma Pictures
Jacob Harris .... roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures
Brent Hensarling .... senior systems administrator: Luma Pictures
Justin Johnson .... digital effects supervisor: Luma Pictures
Harimander Singh Khalsa .... compositor: Luma Pictures (as Michael Cashore)
Jason Locke .... matchmove technical director: Luma Pictures
Jessica Madsen .... roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures (as Jessica Bakke)
Artin Matousian .... systems administrator
Glenn Morris .... roto/paint supervisor: Lima Pictures
Marla Neto .... digital coordinator: Luma Pictures
Justin Porter .... technical coordinator: Luma Pictures
Payam Shohadai .... executive visual effects supervisor: Luma Pictures
Joey Sila .... compositor: Luma Pictures
Jared Simeth .... compositor: Luma Pictures
Safari Sosebee .... matte painter: Luma Pictures
Steven Swanson .... visual effects supervising producer: Luma Pictures
James Waterson .... compositor: Luma Pictures
Patrick Clancey .... digital opticals (uncredited)
John R. Hazzard .... pipeline technical director: Luma Pictures (uncredited)
Raphael A. Pimentel .... animation supervisor (uncredited)
Pavel Pranevsky .... CG supervisor: Luma Pictures (uncredited)
Christopher Sage .... digital environment supervisor: Luma Pictures (uncredited)
Maciek Sokalski .... digital compositor (uncredited)
Kyle Ware .... visual effects coordinator: Luma Pictures (uncredited)
Danny Downey .... stunts
Jery Hewitt .... stunt coordinator
Eric D. Howell .... stunts (as Eric Howell)
Danny Downey .... stunt double: Michael Stuhlbarg (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Tristan Allen .... rigging grip
Paul Candrilli .... best boy grip
Peter Clemence .... key rigging grip
Edward Cohen .... electrician
Roger Deakins .... camera operator
James Farrell .... rigging grip (as James E. Farrell)
Tom Franchett .... rigging gaffer
Joseph Gallup .... grip (as Joe Gallup)
Joseph Grimaldi .... best boy electric (as Joseph L. Grimaldi)
Bruce Hamme .... dolly grip
Craig Hanson .... electrician
Andy Harris .... first assistant camera
Travis Hottinger .... electrician
Travis Hottinger .... lighting technician
Steven Jacobson .... rigging electrician
Scott D. Jolstad .... grip
Maria Juranic .... camera production assistant
Kevin Karpinski .... electrician
Cole Koehler .... camera loader
Mitchell Andrew Lillian .... key grip (as Mitch Lillian)
Michael Lindquist .... second assistant camera
Chris Malone .... rigging electrician
Bill O'Leary .... chief lighting technician
Timothy O'Toole .... video assist operator (as Tim O'Toole)
Matt Olson .... camera production assistant
David S. Pope .... grip (as David Pope)
Gerhard Riautschnig .... rigging electrician (as Gerhard Riautshnig)
Joseph Slagerman .... best boy rigging electric
Darin Spring .... grip
Jeff Villars .... electrician
Peter Vongrossmann .... rigging grip (as Peter Von Grossmann)
Wilson Webb .... still photographer
Michael Winn .... best boy rigging grip
Kathryn Criston .... electrician (uncredited)
Stephen Early .... electrician (uncredited)
Casting Department
Kati Batchelder .... extras casting assistant
Debbie DeLisi .... extras casting
Aaron Greenwood .... extras casting assistant
Sondra James .... adr voice casting
Kelly C. McMahon .... extras casting intern (as Kelly McMahon)
Amelia Rasche McCarthy .... casting associate (as Amelia Rasche)
Sonja Thorson .... extras casting intern
Daniel Cummings .... extras casting intern (uncredited)
Ted Eschweiler .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Todd B. Johnson .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Punnavith Koy .... extras casting intern (uncredited)
Jennifer A. Wright .... extras casting intern (uncredited)
Jasmine Zeppa .... extras casting intern (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Jan E. Adams .... stitcher
Virginia Burton .... costume supervisor: Minneapolis
Lori DeLapp .... costume supervisor: Los Angeles
Jenny Eagan .... assistant costume designer
Nikki Fallenstein .... set costumer
Cynthia Kurkowski .... stitcher
Corrine Larson .... key costumer
Joan Lee .... costume assistant
Melissa Seitzer .... set costumer
Cerah Tymoshuk .... costume assistant (as Cerah M. Tymoshuk)
Jane E. Williams .... key set costumer (as Jane Williams)
Sonja Thorson .... costumes: post-production (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Zuzana Bochar .... apprentice editor (as Zana Bochar)
Rick J. Brown .... colorist: dailies (as Rick Brown)
Buster Jacob Coen .... editorial intern (as Buster Coen)
Emma Gaffney .... first assistant editor
Michael Hatzer .... supervising colorist: Efilm
Ken Lebre .... dailies producer
Christopher McDonald .... dailies operator
Katie Mcquerrey .... associate editor (as Katherine McQuerrey)
Loan Phan .... digital intermediate producer
Lisa Tutunjian .... digital intermediate editor
George Chavez .... color timer (uncredited)
Marc Lulkin .... digital color assist (uncredited)
Philippe Majdalani .... digital intermediate assistant producer (uncredited)
Music Department
Carter Burwell .... conductor
Carter Burwell .... orchestrator
Michael Farrow .... scoring mixer
Tony Finno .... music preparation
Todd Kasow .... music editor
Sandra Park .... music contractor
Dean Parker .... composer assistant
Chris Robertson .... music clearance: Diamond Time
Transportation Department
Carolyn J. Anderson .... driver
Curtis Wade Anderson .... driver (as Curtis W. Anderson)
Richard Anderson .... transportation co-captain (as Richard 'Itchy' Anderson)
Michael Arnold .... picture car coordinator (as Mike Arnold)
Michael Bakri .... driver
Mike Bearer .... driver
Jon Bjornson .... driver
Denny Braun .... driver
Guy Eckert .... driver
Andrew Garski .... driver
William Gillespie .... driver (as William L. Gillespie)
Timothy S. Kennedy .... driver
Steve Kenney .... driver
Frank Ketchum .... driver (as Frank L. Ketchum)
Anthony P. Kettner .... driver
Eugene Kirsch .... driver (as Eugene Kisch)
Scott Lecy .... driver
George Lundquist .... driver
James A. Mahathey .... transportation dispatcher (as James Mahathey)
Jean-Pierre Molina .... driver
Gary Olander .... driver
Byron Roland .... transportation captain
Rajiv Sarin .... driver
Leonard Schneider .... driver
Marc Scott .... transportation coordinator
Ernest Simon .... driver
Leo Skudlarek .... driver (as Leo Matthew Skudlarek)
Greg Viglione .... driver
Jon Westerlund .... driver
Fred Whipple .... driver
Mike Bronge .... picture vehicles wrangler (uncredited)
Other crew
John Alfred .... finance executive
Christina Angeloudes .... legal and business affairs manager: Working Title
Randall Balsmeyer .... title designer: Big Film Design (as Randy Balsmeyer)
Kris Barberg .... assistant production coordinator
Cassandra Barbour .... clearance services: Entertainment Clearances
Colleen Beach .... office production intern
Andrea Bias .... office production intern
Tyson Bidner .... location manager
Megan Alicia Brown .... additional assistant accountant (as Megan Brown)
Carrie Bush .... set production assistant
Stephen Clarke .... set production assistant
Chris Cloud .... location assistant (as Christopher Cloud)
Kevin Curtin .... admin/facilities coordinator
Adam DeLisi .... stand-in: Larry
Kat Donahue .... assistant location manager
Chloe Dorigan .... assistant: Tim Bevan, Working Title (as Chloé Dorigan)
Dave Dustin .... set medic
Rachael Lin Gallaghan .... production coordinator
Kristopher Gensmer .... medic (as Kristopher W. Gensmer)
Kurt W. Gensmer .... medic
Claudia Gray .... unit publicist
Araceli Guerra .... production assistant (uncredited)
Patrick Hammer .... weather guru
Mark Har .... location scout
Anne Healy .... assistant location manager (as Anne Healy Shapiro)
David Hickey .... payroll accountant
Drew P. Houpt .... the last of the just (as Drew Houpt)
Todd B. Johnson .... stand-in: Gar
Thomas Johnston .... script supervisor
Paul Kenney .... second assistant accountant
Ivan Kerum .... chef
Mara Kerum .... chef
Ben Krueger .... office production assistant (as Ben 'The Kroog' Krueger)
Cheryl Kurk .... production accountant
Lisa Kurk-Dmytryk .... construction accountant (as Lisa M. Kurk)
Ken Lebre .... dailies producer: EFilm
Troy Lochner .... office production assistant
Jennifer P. Luther .... first assistant accountant (as Jennifer Luther)
Nikki Martin .... craft service
David Mathiason .... craft service assistant
Kai Miller .... location staff assistant
Angela Morrison .... chief operating officer: Working Title
Patricia Mary Murphy .... serious matters
Sean Murphy .... language and liturgy consultant
Neil Newman .... language and liturgy consultant (as Cantor Neil Newman)
Jeremy Pierce-Sunia .... set production assistant
Jonathan Pruett .... stand-in: Sy and Uncle Arthur
Rachel V. Richardson .... second assistant accountant (as Rachel Richardson)
Allen Lewis Rickman .... translator: Yiddish (as Allen Rickman)
Leigh Rydberg .... stand-in: Danny
Sophie Saleyron .... press attache: France
Laura Sevier .... clearance services: Entertainment Clearances
Sheeraz Shah .... head of legal and business affairs: Working Title
Cara Shine .... assistant: Eric Fellner, Working Title
Todd Sinkewich .... office production assistant
Dan Sklar .... language and liturgy consultant (as Rabbi Cantor Dan Sklar)
Shirah Sklar .... language and liturgy consultant (as Cantor Shirah Sklar)
Any Thompson .... office production assistant
Ben Wood .... location intern
Jennifer A. Wright .... production assistant
Wendy Zierler .... translator: Yiddish
Shari Berda .... stand-in (uncredited)
Jean Dalsin .... production assistant (uncredited)
Adam Davis .... set production assistant (uncredited)
Punnavith Koy .... production assistant (uncredited)
Punnavith Koy .... stand-in (uncredited)
Liz Modena .... post production accountant (uncredited)
Mary Moga .... studio teacher (uncredited)
Meredith Nunnikhoven .... production assistant (uncredited)
Shannon Schaefer .... production secretary (uncredited)
Bill Hudson .... special thanks
Eric Karpeles .... special thanks
Suzanne Lindbergh .... special thanks
Steven Lubensky .... special thanks
Mike Sell .... special thanks
Don Smith .... special thanks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Bill Thompson .... special thanks
Lucinda Winter .... special thanks
Michael Wong .... special thanks
Beverly Wood .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Serious Man" - Japan (English title) (imdb display title)
See more »
Rated R for language, some sexuality/nudity and brief violence
106 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Brazil:16 | Canada:14A (Alberta/Manitoba/Ontario) | Canada:PG (British Columbia) | Canada:G (Québec) | Denmark:11 | Finland:K-11 | Germany:12 (f) | Hong Kong:IIB | Iceland:12 | Ireland:15A | Japan:PG12 | Mexico:B15 | Netherlands:12 | Portugal:M/16 | Singapore:M18 | South Korea:15 | Sweden:11 | Switzerland:12 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:12 (canton of Vaud) | UK:15 | USA:R (certificate #45447)

Did You Know?

When Larry is looking at his class list near the end of the movie, the last student name is Mary Zophres. Zophres is the costume designer on this film.See more »
Continuity: When Traitle Groshkover - the Dybbuk - leaves the house in the opening scene, the snow is falling, and the ground is white. However, he leaves no footprints in the alleged snow as he walks through it.See more »
[first lines]
Shtetl Husband:What a marvel... what a marvel.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2010) (TV)See more »
Machine GunSee more »


What's up with the dybbuk scene?
Is "A Serious Man" based on a book?
Where can I get the script?
See more »
133 out of 215 people found the following review useful.
Natural and excellent next step for the Coens' cerebral probing of life's toughest questions, 21 October 2009
Author: Movie_Muse_Reviews from IL, USA

The Coen brothers have developed critical acclaim for making black comedies/awkward tragedies that depict small-time people getting in way over their heads, who for one reason or another are motivated to do things out of the ordinary because the natural order of the world and society has wronged them in some way.

"A Serious Man," however, is about a man who doesn't do anything, to whom bad/annoying things happen. This story of a confused suburban Jewish man in the '60s wrestling with life's meaning is therefore an important step in the evolution of the Coens' theme-driven film-making. Borrowing on an autobiographical context (Minnesota, Judaism, etc.) for the brothers, it moves on to greater cosmic questions but with the same quirky and ironic spirit that have garnered the Coens all their deserved attention over the last 20 years.

Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is that one Coen brothers character in every movie -- you know, the innocent one who manages to suffer a seemingly unfair fate (think Steve Buscemi in "The Big Lebowski" or most recently Richard Jenkins' character in "Burn After Reading") -- only he gets to pilot this film. In that spirit, an unknown Stuhlbarg is cast in the lead (although he was clearly up for the challenge). Larry is a mild-mannered math professor with a family in an ideal suburban home only his wife wants a divorce and his kids are nightmarish. Little by little the annoyances of his life pile up from the foreign student trying to bribe him for a passing grade while simultaneously suing him for defamation to his socially immature brother (Richard Kind) who won't leave his house.

Larry seeks answers from the rabbis in his community to understand the mess his life has suddenly become. One rabbi tells him he needs a change of perspective, another tells him the story of "The Goy's Teeth," a hilarious bit about a dentist who tries desperately to make meaning of a Hebrew message engraved in a patient's teeth only to find he was better off not worrying about it. None of their advice seems to help at the time -- but it's dead on. The Goy's Teeth scene in particular is one of the brilliant moments where the Coen brothers let you know pretty clearly what their intentions are with the film while giving you something to laugh about. That's their strength and it's all over "Serious Man."

Much like "Burn After Reading," this film is one that makes a thematic point out of the audience's attempt to squeeze meaning out of everything. By turning Larry into a Job-like figure to whom inexplicable misfortune happens, we're forced to put everything into perspective. When Kind's character, Arthur, has a tantrum in the middle of the night wondering why God has given him nothing and he points out that Larry has kids and a job, suddenly our perspective changes. Suddenly everything we thought mattered in this film and was of critical importance is really not such a big deal. Our desperate search for answers in both our lives and in this film, our tendency to over-analyze and derive reason from everything comes to a halt; the Coen bros. have worked their magic again.

"Serious Man" is one of their best in recent memory because it not only feels rooted and personal for them, but it moves toward a greater discussion of previously treaded upon themes and plots from their previous work. It is a challenging film and those who have struggled with the Coen brothers before will struggle again, but for the cerebral and intellectual moviegoer it's outstanding.

The truth is, we don't have all the answers to make sense of life's events (or a story's plot points) and neither do the Coen brothers. One insignificant character in the film who appears to have an answer to just one of Larry's myriad of minor problems dies instantly with hysterical irony. Don't go into "A Serious Man" looking for answers, go into it looking for a change of perspective. ~Steven C Visit my site at

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consequences elbwafel
I turned this off after the first scene. tomsriv2001
You have to be a Jew to get it... bobb328
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