A Serious Man



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So here we have it, a perfect bookend to Fargo. It's Jewish cousin, so to speak. A Serious Man is a bit more dark and a little less comical but in both films the Coen Brothers return to their native Minnesota to gently poke fun at people.

Michael Stuhlbarg plays Larry Gopnik, a late 1960s version of Job. His problems just won't quit. His wife is leaving him for a schmuck and has booted him out of the house, he's worried about getting tenure, his pothead son is getting bar mitzvahed in a week and isn't quite with the program, he has become attracted to the sultry but distant lady next door and his brother Arthur has come to stay with the family, bringing with him tons of personal baggage and a cyst that won't stop draining. And there's more. One of Larry's students who is flunking his physics class thrusts an envelope full of money at him, urging him to change his grade to a passing one. Larry needs the money (he has a bar mitzvah to pay for, he has to pay for the hotel he now lives in and he needs lawyer fees for his no-good brother) but is conflicted.

In an effort to come terms with his predicament he sees a series of Rabbis, each one less helpful than the other. Larry's life becomes filled with uncertainty and, while hoping to find solace in his religion, it appears none can be found.

I know it doesn't sound funny but it is. It's serious in the way it looks at the question of faith but also hilarious in an awkward sort of way. It also seems personal in a way that the recent Coen Brothers movies haven't. I'll take it any day over No Country for Old Men or Burn After Reading. I'm still laughing about the tormenting phone calls Larry gets from the guy from the Columbia Record Club. I'll never think of Santana the same way again.

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Great review of a deft and funny film. I especially liked the exchanges with the red neck living next door ...very funny and sad at the same time .

Thanks for your comment. I too enjoyed the goy next door.

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This page contains a single entry published on February 16, 2010 4:02 PM.

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