A Serious Man
by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Academy Award winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen return to their comedy roots with this darkly humorous story about one ordinary man’s quest to become a serious man.
Starring: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Runtime: 1 hour, 46 minutes
Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Ethan Coen, Focus Features
Starring Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Studio Focus Features
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)
Haym Salomon Airplane
By Jamie MacTavish on June 27, 2010
What makes this wry comedy special isn’t the humour. Although you’ll have a smile on your face much of the time (certainly not at the ending), there were only a couple of laugh out loud moments. Rather, it’s the thought-provoking and stimulating storyline about a Jewish college professor, Larry Gopnik, whose life seems to be unraveling, and who seeks spiritual guidance in vain.
His wife is leaving him for another man. His psychologically impaired brother has moved in, stirring up even more domestic turmoil. He is up for tenure but someone has been sending anonymous letters of complaint about him to university officials. He has to deal with a difficult Korean student, and the student’s father, who offer to bribe him in exchange for a passing grade. And he has money problems.
Gopnik comes across as something of a pathetic sap who could solve some of his problems by just standing up for himself, but his ultimate fate is apparently beyond his control. The ending could have been written by Schopenhauer. Even though I don’t agree with, or like, the movie’s message, I still respect and admire the way it has been put on film.
Aside from the fact that it probably helps to be Jewish (I’m not) when digesting the film, the only problem I have with it is that I kept waiting in vain to find out the significance of the film’s beginning: a supernatural(?) scene in what appears to be 19h century Poland. I don’t know if I missed it, but I was unable to see any connection between this opening and the rest of the movie.
With all the garbage that is churned out by Hollywood nowadays, A SERIOUS MAN is a real gem of a flick, albeit an ultimately depressing one.