A Serious Man

2009

A Serious Man

Critics Consensus

Blending dark humor with profoundly personal themes, the Coen brothers deliver what might be their most mature -- if not their best -- film to date.

89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 215
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Movie Info

"A Serious Man" is the story of an ordinary man's search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and "F-Troop" is on TV. It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik, a physics professor at a quiet Midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith that she is leaving him. She has fallen in love with one of his more pompous colleagues, Sy Ableman, who seems to her a more substantial person than the feckless Larry. Larry's unemployable brother Arthur is sleeping on the couch, his son Danny is a discipline problem and a shirker at Hebrew school, and his daughter Sarah is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job. While his wife and Sy Ableman blithely make new domestic arrangements, and his brother becomes more and more of a burden, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larry's chances for tenure at the university. Also, a graduate student seems to be trying to bribe him for a passing grade while at the same time threatening to sue him for defamation. Plus, the beautiful woman next door torments him by sunbathing nude. Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person -- a mensch -- a serious man?

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Cast

Michael Stuhlbarg
as Larry Gopnik
Richard Kind
as Uncle Arthur
Fred Melamed
as Sy Ableman
Sari Lennick
as Judith Gopnik
Amy Landecker
as Mrs. Samsky
Alan Mandell
as Rabbi Marshak
Adam Arkin
as Divorce Lawyer
Allen Lewis Rickman
as Shtetl Husband
Yelena Shmulenson
as Shtetl Wife
Peter Breitmayer
as Mr. Brandt
Brent Braunschweig
as Mitch Brandt
Simon Helberg
as Rabbi Scott
David Kang
as Clive Park
Aaron Wolff
as Danny Gopnik
Jessica McManus
as Sarah Gopnik
Ari Hoptman
as Arlen Finkle
Michael Tezla
as Dr. Sussman
George Wyner
as Rabbi Nachtner
Michael Lerner
as Solomon Schultz
Benjamin Portnoe
as Danny's Reefer Buddy
Jon Kaminski Jr.
as Mike Fagle
Ronald Schultz
as Hebrew School Teacher
Raye Birk
as Dr. Shapiro
Charles Brin
as Hebrew School Teacher
Stephen Park
as Clive's Father
James Cada
as Cop #1
Jane Hammill
as Larry's Secretary
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News & Interviews for A Serious Man

Critic Reviews for A Serious Man

All Critics (215) | Top Critics (52)

  • The entire script is a mishmash: funny, droll, and anxiety producing, just like daily life in many Jewish families.

    Jan 16, 2018 | Full Review…

    Ed Koch

    The Atlantic
    Top Critic
  • The Coens may play around with that tradition, they may disparage it or mock it. But they are irrevocably a part of it, and that's all to the good.

    Jul 6, 2010 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • If you're puzzled by the Coen Brothers' horrific comedies, this is the closest thing you'll get to an explanation.

    Jul 6, 2010 | Full Review…

    Rafer Guzman

    Newsday
    Top Critic
  • The film's potency is rooted in quiet precision and detailed realisation. Roger Deakins's typically polished photography gives an oppressively hard edge to Midwestern suburbia.

    Nov 20, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Ben Walters

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A Serious Man represents the brothers at their sardonic best, wringing a sacrilegious amount of gallows humour from the trials of their latterday Job.

    Nov 20, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Euphoric, sad and thoughtful all at once... The Coens have finished the noughties as America's pre-eminent film-makers.

    Nov 20, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

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