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A Serious Man (2009)

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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.

Directors:

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
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Popularity
2,309 ( 188)

A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 72 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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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

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, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$9,190,525, 1 January 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tyson Bidner, the film's location manager, was cast as the magbiah at Danny's bar mitzvah because he had been one in real life. He said the Torah scroll was very heavy and difficult to lift above his head. See more »

Goofs

In all or most of the driving scenes, yellow center lane dividing lines are shown. Yellow lines did not appear in the center of U.S. roads until the 1970's. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Shtetl Husband: What a marvel... what a marvel.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Fyvush Finkel's character is listed as "Dybbuk?". See more »


Soundtracks

Somebody to Love
Written by Darby Slick
Performed by Jefferson Airplane
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label
By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Moving, funny, complex, surprising, and often (often) brilliant
4 January 2010 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

A Serious Man (2009)

Such a vivid recreation of late 1960s suburban America is a remarkable enough basis for a movie, making the real meat of the thing almost transcendent. A joy! I recognized everything here from my own childhood--everything except everything Jewish.

And that's the point, taken well. And made well, brilliant from start to finish. Very Coen Brothers--moving, sometimes disturbing, and sometimes very hilarious.

For insiders--American Jews--the references and send-ups will be moving and funny and familiar. For outsiders--goys--A Serious Man is an indoctrination, a can opener to an ethnic world with deep roots (Eastern European in this case), great integrity, and many internal (modern) conflicts.

The surrealism sprinkled throughout is just smart movie-making, keeping it from becoming a deep, ironic, and serious movie. It's a comedy with deeply serious undertones, not the other way around. Some of the acting is amazing, Michael Stuhlbarg playing the line between tragedy and farce in every scene, and the filming is expert without ever drawing attention to itself. The ending will leave many people talking and it isn't appropriate to do that here, except to say that in some ways it leaves you thinking so hard you may read more into the events than is really there.

Or not. Certainly the first scene, if it is some metaphor for all the follows, is both trenchant and disturbing, more Babel than Singer, but perhaps (perhaps) frightening in its misogyny. In fact, the whole movie has men who are wise, who laugh at their fate, who do good things, and women who, one way or another, stick the knife in you.

And who (or what) is the dybbuk here? Is this about the survival of some kind of Judaic history in contemporary America? Or is it larger, about the meaning of Judaism period, on a worldly level? Or larger still, is it simply a movie, like Do the Right Thing or My Big Fat Greek Wedding or any of thousands of others, about life, and love, and the struggling of one person against the woes of the world as he or she faces them, in their own context?

Or is it a comedy, a really funny comedy, making fun, having fun, and rising above the tawdry enough to remind everyone, Jewish or not, of the need we all have for community and connection and continuity.


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