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.


Ethan Coen, Joel Coen


Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
3,261 ( 352)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 78 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Two actors in this movie portrayed notorious gambler/mobster Arnold Rothstein in other works: Michael Stuhlbarg in "Boardwalk Empire" and Michael Lerner in "Eight Men Out". See more »


The contents of principal Turchik's desk drawer changes as Danny and his reefer buddy search for Danny's radio. In the brief instant the drawer closes, several new items can be seen that were not there when the boys were ransacking the drawer moments earlier, including a set of Groucho Marx glasses, a toy ray gun, a yo-yo, a garden hose nozzle and a Playboy magazine. Gone from the drawer are a gyroscope, Pez dispenser in the shape of a pumpkin, and a set of finger cuffs. See more »


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

Crazy Credits

The Last of the Just: Drew Houpt See more »


Somebody to Love
Written by Darby Slick
Performed by Jefferson Airplane
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label
By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
See more »

User Reviews

Abstract and solid
3 October 2009 | by Blade_Le_FlambeurSee all my reviews

A Serious Man, the Coen Bros new film, is different from what has come before it. Many will inevitably try to compare the numerous dream sequences to the surrealism and (Jewish) neuroticsm prevalent in Barton Fink. Others how the film beats up the character as the Coens did in the recent Burn After Reading, practically patronizing how shallow and often stupid they are. Yet the film is also filled with a great amount of warmth and despite the jolt the ending has-I think ultimately is a film about coping.

A plot summary doesn't do much to describe the film which is separated into a prologue set in Poland in Yiddish then chapter headings that show when the protagonist seeks out three main rabis. As his troubles compound the situations become increasingly bizarre and humorous. The humor feels more universal than, say, Burn After Reading. Particularly in the insulation of these characters as most, if not all scenes, take place from Larry's perspective. His unorthodox and uptight American neighbors, a Korean student of his, etc. all have very funny interactions with Larry that the audience enjoys. His inability to really deal with his surroundings and his timid nature are played for great comedy.

It's hard to effectively write up about the film's merits as it is so abstract. Audience opinion is likely to be divided as this does not conveniently fit into the Coens cannon. There is no ransom plot, no bursts of sudden violence and no major stars who make fools of themselves. Instead the film is tightly constructed by trying to convey the atmosphere of living and dealing in this time and place. The ambiance of the film is perhaps its strongest and weakest element. Since it relies so much on mood and texture, it's hard to do a full critical analysis. Many will differ in their response to the significance of the ending or the significance to the film on the whole. Personally I recommend it.

34 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 404 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook


UK | France | USA


English | Yiddish | Hebrew

Release Date:

6 November 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Serious Man See more »


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$251,337, 4 October 2009

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed