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A Serious Man

2009 Comedy

Filmmaking duo Joel and Ethan Coen write, produce, and direct this period black comedy set in 1967 concerning a Midwestern physics professor whose staid and stable life slowly begins to unravel after his wife announces that she's leaving him. As if the failure of his longtime marriage wasn't enough for Larry Gopnik (Tony-nominated Michael Stuhlbarg) to contend with, now his socially inept brother refuses to move out of the house as well. Larry is a modest man of science. Up to this point, his life has been uneventful at best, but things are about to get interesting. When his wife, Judith, announces that she is leaving him to move in with his smug colleague Sy Ableman, Larry does his best to contend with his failed marriage while barely tolerating his unemployable brother, Arthur, who appears to have grown roots on Larry's couch. Meanwhile, Larry's son, Danny, is getting into trouble at Hebrew school, and his daughter, Sarah, is stealthily snatching money from his wallet so she can afford a nose job. As Judith and Sy merrily begin making plans for their new life of domestic bliss together, Larry begins receiving a series of anonymous letters from someone who seems intent on sabotaging his chance for tenure at the university. To further complicate matters, a graduate student with failing grades is attempting to bribe the professor while simultaneously threatening him with a defamation lawsuit. Larry is in some serious need of equilibrium, though it's hard to focus on getting your life in order when your beautiful neighbor insists on sunbathing in the nude just outside your window. Perhaps by seeking the advice of three trusted rabbis, Larry can finally learn to cope with his afflictions and become a genuine mensch. A Serious Man is the second in a two-picture deal that the siblings made with Focus Features and Working Title. The first film in the deal, entitled Burn After Reading and starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Frances McDormand, was released nationwide in September 2008. more..

Director: Joel Coen

Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Adam Arkin

Reviews

  • Writer-directors Joel and Ethan have seized the opportunity afforded by the Oscar-winning success of "No Country for Old Men," to make their most personal, most intensely Jewish film, a pitch-perfect comedy of despair that, against some odds, turns out to be one of their most universal as well.

    Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times

    29 November 2012

  • Have I mentioned A Serious Man is so rich and funny? This isn't a laugh-laugh movie, but a wince-wince movie. Those can be funny too.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    29 November 2012

  • The movie is funny, definitely funny. But underlying the humor is a vision so bleak, so despairing and so utterly hopeless as to make "No Country for Old Men" almost look cheerful.

    Mick LaSalle - The San Francisco Chronicle

    29 November 2012

  • It's a work of cruel comic genius, in some ways even crueler than "No Country for Old Men.''

    Ty Burr - The Boston Globe

    29 November 2012

  • Working with affectionate mockery, the Coens take the cinder-block-synagogue banality of American Jewish life in 1967 and make it look as archly exotic as the loopy Scandinavian-American winterscape of "Fargo."

    Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly

    29 November 2012

Awards

  • AFI Movie of the Year

    AFI Awards (2009)

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year

    Academy Awards (2010)

     
  • Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy or Musical)

    American Cinema Editors (2010)

     
  • Period Film

    Art Directors Guild (2010)

     
  • Best Film

    Austin Film Critics Association (2009)