7.0/10
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394 user 316 critic

A Serious Man (2009)

Trailer
1:41 | Trailer
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.

Directors:

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Reviews
Popularity
1,690 ( 357)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 78 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Stuhlbarg ... Larry Gopnik
Richard Kind ... Uncle Arthur
Fred Melamed ... Sy Ableman
Sari Lennick ... Judith Gopnik
Aaron Wolff ... Danny Gopnik
Jessica McManus Jessica McManus ... Sarah Gopnik
Peter Breitmayer ... Mr. Brandt
Brent Braunschweig Brent Braunschweig ... Mitch Brandt
David Kang David Kang ... Clive Park
Benjamin Portnoe Benjamin Portnoe ... Danny's Reefer Buddy
Jack Swiler Jack Swiler ... Boy on Bus
Andrew S. Lentz Andrew S. Lentz ... Cursing Boy on Bus
Jon Kaminski Jr. Jon Kaminski Jr. ... Mike Fagle
Ari Hoptman ... Arlen Finkle
Alan Mandell Alan Mandell ... Rabbi Marshak
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At his Bar Mitzvah, Danny reads a "Parshah" or portion of the Torah scroll known as "Behar" (Leviticus 25:1 - 26:2) which details the events of the Jubilee year, including the release of slaves and return of ancestral lands. Because the reading of Torah portions follow a set yearly cycle, this means that Danny's Bar Mitzvah occurred in early May of 1967. See more »

Goofs

Yarmulkas (skull caps) are not worn in Hebrew class by students some of the time and then they are other times. The lettering on the school bus is in Hebrew which implies the school is not a reform movement school. They would always wear yarmulkas in class. See more »

Quotes

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

The Last of the Just: Drew Houpt See more »


Soundtracks

Comin' Back to Me
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

 
When a group of drug-addled hippies are closer to the truth than quantum electrodynamics or ancient Hebraic scholarship
30 April 2017 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

Released in 2009 and written & directed by the Coen brothers, "A Serious Man" is a black comedy/drama/satire about a passive Minneapolis physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) in 1967 who faces a series of tragedies and desperately seeks the answers 'Why?' Sari Lennick plays his unfaithful wife and Fred Melamed (who looks like Francis Ford Coppola) her lover. Richard Kind appears as the eccentric (maybe genius) uncle while Aaron Wolff & Jessica McManus play the kids. Amy Landecker is on hand as a sexpot neighbor. Simon Helberg (from The Big Bang Theory) has a small role as an assistant rabbi.

There's a prologue that was shot in the Czech Republic which the Coens say has no link to the rest of the movie. Really? It struck me as rather tedious and, if it has no connection to the story, why is it there? Actually, I didn't find the entire first half of the film very entertaining and the protagonist's ultra-passivism started to become exasperating, but around the halfway point things began to click and I found myself consistently amused till the end.

Freely borrowing from the awesome book of Job, this movie will obviously play better to Jewish and Christian audiences; perhaps also other spiritual seekers. It addresses the deep questions of life and the inherent challenges of the human condition (trapped in a physical shell in a fallen world while yearning for the perfect and divine) with a good sense of satirical humor. The song "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane is a focal point and supposedly holds the non-answers:

"When the truth is found to be lies; And all the joy within you dies. Don't you want somebody to love? Don't you need somebody to love? Wouldn't you love somebody to love? You better find somebody to love."

There are anachronistic references to two albums: Santana's Abraxas and Creedence Clearwater Revival's Cosmo's Factory, which weren't released until 1970, three years after the events in the film.

The movie runs 106 minutes and was shot in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area (e.g. the suburban scenes were filmed in Bloomington), including St. Louis Park, where I spent my childhood.

GRADE: B-


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA | UK | France

Language:

English | Yiddish | Hebrew

Release Date:

6 November 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Serious Man See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$251,337, 4 October 2009

Gross USA:

$9,228,768

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$31,430,334
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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