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A Serious Man Reviews

Page 1 of 258
Jens S

Super Reviewer

September 17, 2009
After a really interesting and haunting prologue, this film is a 90 minutes collection of uncomfortable situations for the protagonist and viewer that fails to get a point across, produce laughter or even entertain on any level. Maybe you have to be Jewish to appreciate the character's struggle. I can safely say that I simply didn't get it. Shocking, that this came from the Coen Brothers.
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

October 3, 2009
I've watched it a few times now, and even though I still don't have it all figured out (as if one is even supposed to), things become a little less hazy with each viewing. This is a great type of film to discuss long after it has ended.

The Coens have made some strange and off-the-wall films, but this one may just take the cake. In terms of style, it most closely resembles The Man Who Wasn't There. That was their most serious film. This one is also quite serious, and very dark, but there's still some humor, much like how No Country For Old Men had humor, even if it was subtle. Had I understood more of the references, I probably would have found it even funnier, but as it stands, I still laughed a bit throughout, even if I did so in an awkward and uneasy way.

Some of this film escaped me, as I am not Jewish, but, as a Catholic, I found myself relating to some things, as Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt are very similar, and the interactions Larry has with the Rabbis are similar to things I've experienced from being Catholic.

This is an odd and awkward film, but I think that's why I liked it. It's not so obtuse and out there in a David Lynch kind of way, but this is definitely a film for a limited audience. One reviewer on here (hypathio7) called it the New Fiddler on the Roof- something that actually fits quite well. I see it as a loose take on The Book of Job, but Fiddler works too.

The look of this film is just fantastic. Aesthetically and with the decor and stuff...wow...big noses, huge glasses...the hairstyles....the clothes...the cars...everything is top notch. They nailed the look of the late 60s perfectly. The music rules too, I love that Jefferson Airplane figures prominently into things, and works as a pay off to a great joke.

As should be expected, the writing, direction, and camera work are top-notch. Some have said that this is the type of movie you get to make after winning an Oscar. I agree. Burn After Reading was done after they won the Oscar, but after that, the Coens went all in on this, and as a result, have created one of their most astounding, meaty, and thought provoking films.

The performances are dynamite, and I like that the two most well known actors in the film are only like medium well known in the mainstream (Kind and Arkin). It was fun seeing Lerner in a brief cameo too (he has previously worked with the Coens for those who didn't know). Using unknowns for the rest of the cast was an excellent decision. I hope to see them in more films in the future.

Drawing on the counterculture, many aspects of Jewish culture and religion, personal experiences (although this film is not autobiographical), math and physics, and a ton of other stuff, this film is some heavy shit, but it's not ponderous, pretentious, or boring, even if it is rather slow. Yeah, it's not for everyone, but for those that can get on the wavelength, there is a lot of greatness to be found here.
Sophie B

Super Reviewer

October 4, 2009
An 'intelligent' film which says more in silence than what it does in words. I tried really hard to care about these characters but I just found them boring and annoying.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

February 4, 2010
I'll call this one The Little Lebowski in the Coens' career: a simple story about simple characters who just can't get a break, but instead of stumbling into a cartoonish and over-the-top crime story, Larry Gopnik is confronted by reality ad nauseum, facing calamities in his marriage and his job and his faith all at once. At the beginning, you run the risk of being downright bored, but this is a film that you can't turn away from - the character Michael Stuhlbarg creates is incredibly pathetic, but you can't help but get wrapped up in his life, and even cheer for him a little. Very much a story of a man versus seemingly cosmic forces, at the same time it's story about the day-to-day grind that life can sometimes become. The ending is almost uplifting, even - almost. This is the Coens, after all. Unfairly panned, it's a rather fine movie.
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

September 12, 2012
A put-upon Jewish suburbanite suffers the trials and indignities of everyday life in the 1960s. I'm a big fan of the Coen brothers and I'm convinced that this, their latest straight comedy, is a quality film. The problem is that its audience is a very narrow one; namely Jewish Americans. Being as Goy as they come, the cultural references flew straight over my head and I found the constant religious references utterly baffling. Michael Stuhlbarg makes a very sympathetic central character and the gentle humour is always amusing. When I actually understood it. I'm sure the sly and witty observations on the modern Jewish condition are hilarious to the intended demographic but if like me you're not part of it, I suspect you'll find it equally bemusing.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

March 25, 2012
Truly unique and full of deep questions about life, this is the Coen's most mature and reflective work. With hilarious dialogue and once again pitch perfect performances from the entire cast.
Albert K

Super Reviewer

April 5, 2011
Another Coen brother's movie that is very entertaining. The movie feels very fresh in its approach towards a different type of comedy that is dark and unique. I enjoyed this incredibly well directed, written, and acted movie.
blkbomb
blkbomb

Super Reviewer

November 29, 2011
Larry Gopnik: The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can't ever really know... what's going on. So it shouldn't bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term. 


A Serious Man is definitely not one of my favorite Coen brothers films, but it does have everything you'd expect from them. It has all the brilliant and bizarre plot elements that make watching a Coen brothers movie so special. It has the amazing and beautiful cinematography of Roger Deakins. The only thing it is really missing is a great plot. Sure a lot of the Coen's work is like this, where stuff just happens. But here it somehow seemed even more odd than normal.

A Jewish professor's life is in turmoil. At home, his wife is leaving him for another man. At work, a foreign student who failed his class leaves him some bribe money for a passing grade and he must decide what to do about it. He is also looking it possibly being tenured. Then he has a brother living at home who has gotten himself into some legal trouble. Nothing much is going well for him. 

I don't think I got everything out of this I should and I really need to check it out again. Like a lot of their work, this has a lot of under the surface stuff going on and I didn't catch a great majority of it. I think I will appreciate the movie much more with a few more viewings. 

What I did get out of it though, I liked. Maybe I didn't fall in love with it like I do with most other Coen films, but I still really liked it. From the bizarre opening scene to the ending that doesn't really bring any closure to the surface plot, but to the ideas that are lying underneath; it is a Coen film all the way. And when I watch a Coen film, I am never disappointed.
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2010
This film has a lot to pick apart and be very confused over, but I'm not as cold towards it as others. I found the irregularity, the despondent plot and varied storyline enthralling. The juxtaposition between the Jewish faith and these haphazard points in time really made for an interesting watch. As a goy (ooh, that term sounds gross) it was almost an educational experience to learn about the different terms of which the Jewish faith uses, but more importantly it was how this played into the story. Everyone agrees that the performance of Michael Stuhlbarg was extraordinary, and his prowess made the film. The extenuating actors were perfectly cast, and led to an aura of humiliation, degradation and social morays that either led down a fast fantasy by the main character or went back to the other characters' involvement with Judaism. Though Judaism tied into most of everything, it was the main character's plight that really spoke volumes: His wife leaves him, his kids don't care, a student tries to bribe him and then sues for defamation, he owes a lot of money, his uncle is sick. It's just everything building on top of each other, and there's no rest for him. I believe this is a metaphor for his own languid feelings towards his faith, which is what leads him to consult with multiple rabbis on the subject. It's definitely disjointed and perhaps not well put together at times, but I so enjoyed the enmeshment of everything coalescing together, that I didn't care about the dream sequences being so pivotal, or the ending being abrupt (though I actually kind of liked it.) It's one of the Coens more organic ventures, and really deserved all the critical praise.
TheDudeLebowski65
TheDudeLebowski65

Super Reviewer

July 31, 2011
Before I start this review, let me just say that I am a diehard Coen Brothers fan. I loved everything that they've done, and thought that each film they made was terrific, unique and different from the previous one. However with A Serious Man, I felt they've made the worst film of their career. The film is too slow with little development and has nothing spectacular going on on screen. The Coens always had a somewhat eccentric storyline for each of their films, and it worked almost everytime. Except now. The film is boring and dull, and I was trying to figure out what this film was trying to be. The film did not impress me, and I honestly think that this is the worst Coen Brothers film. A Serious Man is a disappointment and if you're looking for the worst film that The Coens have made, this is it. I really couldn't get into this film, and I don't see why this film has gotten the praise it has received. The film is dull, with little substance to make it something interesting. Thats also the worst part about the film, usually the Coens deliver something thats very interesting on screen and entertains the viewer, however with this film, it puts the viewer to sleep and makes him wait for the end credits. At least this is the only Coen Brothers film that I consider crap, and they redeemed themselves with True Grit.
puffchunk
puffchunk

Super Reviewer

July 15, 2011
Even when there wasn't interesting things going on, it was very interesting done. The guy's life couldn't have sucked more, and it never ends. But, it's all about perspective. From his perspective his life sucked, but from his brother's, it was incredible. So much stuff happens for no reason, including bad things to good people, and there isn't any answer to it (even for the audience wanting to know what every little thing in the movie meant...there isn't always an answer for that either). And even at the end, with so much left unfinished, it doesn't matter what potentially good or bad things were going to happen. That's life, and it doesn't wrap up in a nice tidy package like most films try and do.
366weirdmovies
366weirdmovies

Super Reviewer

November 22, 2009
A putzy Jewish physics professor suffers from a series of problems including a failing marriage, bratty kids, students willing to do anything for a passing grade, financial troubles, and a ne'er-do-well brother. It's a retelling of the Book of Job as an absurdist comedy; frequently funny but also confounding, with a notorious non-ending. So intensely Jewish that you'll feel ready to be mitzvahed after one viewing.
shahmeer h.
shahmeer h.

Super Reviewer

June 19, 2011
Pure crap. (with a little interest) it was hard to understand what they were saying. very hard to even try to comprehend the story (especially the beginning). Shouldn't have been nominated for best pictue. and to the Cohen Brothers......COME ON. thankyou for your time.
stevenecarrier
stevenecarrier

Super Reviewer

June 6, 2011
"When the truth is found to be lies / When all the joy within you dies" ... Then what?
DreamExtractor
DreamExtractor

Super Reviewer

March 1, 2011
Intense film of a man that has a weird outlook on life. I felt like I was watching American Beauty all over again, and it felt great. The Coens never dissapoint with story and camerawork. I know people hated this, but it really intrigued during and after the movie.
flixsterman
flixsterman

Super Reviewer

April 4, 2009
Not since Schindler's List has a film made me so happy to be a goy.
LWOODS04
LWOODS04

Super Reviewer

October 4, 2009
Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Peter Breitmayer, Adam Arkin, David Kang

Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Summary: Larry Gopnik (Golden Globe nominee Michael Stuhlbarg) has hit a "rough patch," according to a colleague, and it would seem so: people are dropping dead all around him, his wife (Sari Lennick) wants a "get" and his whining kids (Aaron Wolff and Jessica McManus) only add to the heavy load. Larry is just looking for some help. Can a few rabbis guide him to life's answers?

My Thoughts: "This was a nice little dark comedy film. Good acting by all. But I must say the main character was infuriating. I just couldn't understand how he could just somewhat keep it together. I would have went nuts on Sy and definitely would have made Judith leave and stay at the Motel. Larry has no back bone and might as well have faded into the background. I just can't stand those types of character's who let themselves be treated in the manor he was. I kept waiting for some big explosion from him of having enough from his bitchy wife, to the new man, his whiny kids, and his odd brother, but it never came. Just can't imagine someone staying so cool and collective. But it seemed to work for this film. Not a must see in my opinion, but it was worth taking a look at."
Kase V

Super Reviewer

March 27, 2011
A Serious Man has the most simple yet the most complicated core, and thats what makes it so brilliant. It's easy. Life is confusing, and then there's death. The masterful work of the Coen Brothers tortures Stuhlberg's soul until offering hope in it's final moments, only to take it all away in the final seconds. Gotcha.
Edward B

Super Reviewer

March 20, 2011
A Serious Man is as great a film as the Coen Brothers have made, and they've made Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and my favourite film of all time: No Country for Old Men. This is a comedy that is so dark and bleak, you would think it's a drama.
It centres around a Jewish professor named Larry Gopnick, who, to make a long story short, is having to deal with more stress than anyone deserves to go through. He isn't really complaining about it, but he seeks out advice on how to cope, and begs an answer from God as to why all this is happening to him. You can see the similarities between this tale and The Book of Job. There is an interesting prologue to the film that suggests his ancestors had a ghost curse their family line, but the film mainly asks the question as to whether there is any reason at all for bad things happening to good people. God might be testing his faith, but it's just as likely that Larry is a mere victim of bad luck.
No matter how you interpret it, A Serious Man is a wonderfully original film. Engaging and entertaining in ways that only the Coens know how to do, I loved everything about this movie. It is exactly the right brand of dark humour, and it raises existential and religious questions without providing any easy answers, giving you much to reflect on once the credits have roll!
Shawn E

Super Reviewer

March 14, 2011
A dark and dramatic film that tries to incorporate so many themes that the film becomes lost and frustrated.
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