A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man

You know, there are certain movies that are actually just so-so, but because they matched your mood when you're watching it, they turned to be so enthralling. "A Serious Man" is probably like that. One of a few indie movies by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "A Serious Man" needs you to be open-minded before starting watching it. There are plenty of references about Jew in this movie, but with the help of tidy screenplay, nice directing, and good performances by the cast, everyone could easily capture the big idea of this movie—which is so heart-pleasing.

 SYNOPSIS >  “A Serious Man” was set on 1960s, when a Jewish physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) was suddenly asked for divorce by his wife, Judith (Sari Lennick), because she had an affair with Larry’s best friend, Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed). Danny (Aaron Wolff), his troublesome son, was about to get bar-mitzvah while Sarah (Jessica McManus), his daughter, was so concerned with her appearance that she was always bothered by Arthur (Richard Kind), Larry’s jobless brother, who spent a long time in the bathroom. One misfortune came after another misfortune, making Larry felt depressed with his life and finally looked for answers for his problems. And as a Jewish man from a Jewish family, he then approached the rabbi to find the solutions.

A Serious Man
Seriously, I have never understood what is bar-mitzvah until I watched "A Serious Man".

 REVIEW >  What Larry Gopnik questioned in this movie is everybody's questions. We are all asking the same question. I mean, there are times when you feel like the universe is against you, and your every step leads you to another worse situation, and perhaps you feel like you wanna quit playing this video-game called life. Sometimes (or maybe currently) I do. And as a religious man we then go back finding the solution of our problems to God by praying, doing ritual things, asking the priest or other religious persons, whatsoever. But we hardly get answered. The misfortunes we had are always there, with or without clear explanations about why they should be there. "A Serious Man" captured this very, very greatly. All references regarding Jew could be analogous, except if you accept them rigidly. More than that, it quits the habit of retelling this elegy in the sad way, and chooses to make fun of it. The Coen Brothers did this very well, regardless of the fact that some parts of this movie were taken from their childhood.

This is a very nice tragic comedy that divides the viewers into two groups: those who are in the same situation with Larry (perhaps I'm in this group) and those who laughs on it. And both will be similarly pleased by "A Serious Man", because it wrapped its story very nicely so that the viewers have a full right to decide what the movie is telling them, without being judged or controlled. It's like watching a piece of a man's daily life. Like a reality show with a perfect cinematic style. The story flowed very naturally. Emotions and laughs popped out with no force. Some viewers might find this movie boring and pointless, but it's okay. Probably they need to adapt with this kind of genre—dark-comedy—to understand and finally enjoy "A Serious Man". Some other bothering things might be the many Jewish or Hebrew term used in this movie, but the way I saw them, I tried to skip them out without being bothered looking them up in the dictionary or googling them, so I could enjoy the movie nicely. And don’t you forget with the most iconic scene of the movie, the uncertainty principle scene!

A Serious Man
Familiar with this picture? You might found it as a meme, but it actually is a scene from this movie.

The Coens love subplots. There will be at least two story-within-story-s in the main plot, one in the opening scene and one in the middle part, which enrich the plot and excite me as well. Simple, understandable dialogues help viewer to catch the big idea of this movie, and finally make the whole story looks close to us. Roger Deakins as the cinematographer greatly photographed every scene in such a way that makes it beautiful, well-pitched, but not over-stylized. The cinematography musts be one of the aspects that make “A Serious Man” well-made. It’s great seeing how a single picture could tell many moods and emotions altogether. The cinematography, plus the editing, makes this story-telling journey even more comical. The duration is perfect, even I asked for more minutes because of its ending. With many Yiddish/Hebrew background songs, “A Serious Man” is more like a totally Jewish movie although it’s not. I found the songs were nice, actually.

And there’s not even a single actor from the cast of “A Serious Man” that looks familiar to me. Not even one. Mostly they were first-time actors, except Michael Stuhlbarg and Richard Kind. For me, this is another positive aspect of “A Serious Man” that plays a big deal of making the story looks simple and humble. Applause is given for Michael Stuhlbarg for perfectly playing the nerdy, awkward, and confused Larry Gopnik. I love his gestures. I mean, he was perfectly suitable for mimicking such an edgy man (see how Larry flicked his glasses with the muscles of his nose bridge) like Larry Gopnik. Nice. Sari Lennick also did a good portrayal of a superior wife like Judith, while both Aaron Wolff and Jessica McManus were perfect as two bothersome children. Other minor characters were unique, like Rabbi Nachtner, Arlen, Mr. Brandt, or Clive, and they sometimes brought giggles.

A Serious Man
I love this movie's cinematography.

 CONCLUSION >  You know, I watched it one or two weeks ago and have been re-watching it three times ever since. Beside that it perfectly matched my mood, it's also because "A Serious Man" is a light movie to watch. Very re-watchable, but it’s also the kind of love-it-or-leave-it movie. With the so many Jewish references, some would find “A Serious Man” a difficult movie but, trust me, once you skip them and focus on the story itself, you’ll see how close the story to us.

A Serious Man4 out of 5 stars

 ▲  Lightweight but rich, close to real life, nice blend of comedy and moral values
 ▼  Heavy Jewish terms, a bit draggy

A SERIOUS MAN | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2009 RATING Rated R for language, some sexuality/nudity and brief violence RUNTIME 106 min GENRE Comedy, Drama CAST Michael Stuhlbarg, Sari Lennick, Richard Kind, Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus WRITER Joel Coen & Ethan Coen DIRECTOR Ethan Coen & Joel Coen MORE INFO

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  1. I love how coen bros. reflect their inner jewish side in this movie..anyway hollywood is jews' nest..muhaha

    nice scrutiny by the way :cool:

    1. This is a light yet rich film, and many things can be absorbed from this film. Hahaha, I have never really thought about that.
      Thanks :)