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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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A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

From Blood Simple to the new The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, we take a look at the offbeat stylings of Academy Award-winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

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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

Sy Ableman says mathematics is "the art of the possible", a paraphrase of a quote by Otto von Bismarck, who called politics "the art of the possible". See more »

Goofs

In Minnesota, deer hunting season with rifles occurs in the autumn, while "tornado season" occurs from late spring to late summer. Two different dates in the film imply that the time of the year is in April and May, and the trees in the film have not changed color as they start to do in late August/early September. However, Larry Gopnik's neighbors return from deer hunting, well before the tornado scene at the end of the film. See more »

Quotes

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

Crazy Credits

[pre-credits title] "Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you." - Rashi 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

 
Major players deconstructing the film-making paradigm
2 December 2009 | by freelancethinkersSee all my reviews

I suppose the first thing that needs to be said is that I'm not Jewish and, as such, a lot of what was obviously a deeply personal movie went over my head, and I was left feeling like an outsider, almost a voyeur.

However, perhaps as a result of this I'm able to view the film more objectively. Visually, it is beautiful. There are so many perfectly framed scenes that even when the story seems to drag it keeps you captivated.

Having said that, for me, it did drag. The central figure was a neurotic, cerebral, awkward, middle aged Jewish man. Not entirely a cinematic first. Add to this the fact that he was possibly the most passive character in cinematic history - he literally made no decisions in the entire movie until the final scene. Instead he was drawn from one catastrophe to another, on the basis that he was a good, upstanding man surrounded by stronger people.

Normally in this situation we would see the character challenged and grow, but this is the Coen brothers, so it's not going to be that simple. Instead,,we are left to squirm at the relentless nature of the man's incessant failings - a frustrating experience, particularly if you're not privy to the Jewish humour that pervades this intimate film.

It seemed to me almost as if the Coen Brothers were seeing how far they can stretch their high profile. With No Country For Old Men they robbed us of the pivotal, climactic scene and I for one left feeling cheated. Here they simply don't introduce it at all. They break every story paradigm there is, as if to suggest that they are now so great they can present a piece that has no development, no conclusion, a prologue that seems to have no relevance to the main body of the work, and no redemptive quality to extract from any of the characters. A bit like real life I suppose. But who wants to see that on a forty foot screen?

I need to lay down.


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