Posted by: Audiegrl
Imaginatively exploring questions of faith, familial responsibility, delinquent behavior, dental phenomena, academia, mortality, and Judaism – and intersections thereof – A Serious Man is the new film from Academy Award‐winning writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen. They tell 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 acquaintances, 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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The cast includes: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Adam Arkin, Aaron Wolff, and Jessica McManus
“I saw this movie at TIFF on Saturday. The Coens quietly (and I mean quietly – no-one could hear even their amplified voices) introduced the movie with reference to the actors present but not the movie, letting it speak for itself. And it did. In its own way. It is an off-beat (what else?) and serious work that radiates bleak despair while searching for a funny bone. In the process, the movie makes other black comedies look positively light and airy. The movie evokes laughs from a different place than most – from a profound discomfort watching people twist themselves this way and that to fit in and be regarded seriously, whether situationally, socially or religiously. A great piece of work that will have you thinking long afterwards, especially considering the odd and difficult-to-contextualize prologue and, um different, ending which bookend a remarkable work.”
Did You Know?
The names of the characters who ride the school bus with Danny Gopnik are the names of children that the Coen brothers grew up with.
The criminal lawyer that Larry is told to go to, Ron Meshbesher, is actually a local lawyer in Minneapolis. He is of the firm Meshbesher and Spence. The address that is on the retainer envelope at the end of the movie is their actual downtown address.
The voice of Dick Dutton, the Columbia Record Club employee who harasses Larry on the phone, is supplied by actor Warren Keith. This is the second time he has appeared in a Coen Brothers film playing a character heard only on the phone. He also supplies the voice of Reilly Diefenbach, the GMAC finance officer who calls Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo (1996).
Sarah Gopnik repeatedly talks about going to “The Whole”. The Whole is the music club in the basement of the University of Minnesota student union. It opened in the 1960s.