Movie Review: A Serious Man

Reviewed By: Matthew Kerwin

Grade- A

The Coen Brothers have done it again!!  From the creative minds that brought us movies such as “Fargo”, “The Big Lebowski” and “No Country for Old Men” grace us with their latest film “A Serious Man.”

A Serious Man tells the tale of  Larry Gopnik, a Jewish physics professor (played wonderfully by the relatively unknown Michael Stuhlbarg) his wife and 2 kids who live in the suburbs of St Louis Park, Minnesota  during the late 1960’s.  The film centers around the father of the family, Larry, as he deals with a mid- life crisis. His wife informs she is leaving him for his best friend and to make matters worse, one of  Larry’s students is bribing him with money to get a passing grade. His annoying brother Aurthur is living on his couch, his son is experimenting with marijuana while struggling to pay attention in Hebrew school and his daugher is stealing money from him for a nose job.The film is said to be inspired by real life events based on  the upbringing of Joel and Ethan Coen, the movies directors.

What makes this movie work on so many levels is from the great job and approach that Michael Stulhlbarg brings to his character Larry.Larry could have been portrayed as a man who takes pity on himself and looks for sympathy and comfort from others. Instead, Stuhlbarg plays Larry as more of an optimistic and hopeful man who has fallen on hard times, but turns to faith for healing. Everyone around him seems to have a grudge or deep loathing hate for him, including his wife and kids. As the viewer i kept wondering why anyone could hate this man. He works hard, stays out of trouble and provides for his family. This movie isn’t laugh out loud funny, but has a quirkiness to it that makes you chuckle and feel for the main character as he struggles to make ends meet.

On a side note, The films cinematographer Roger Deakins re-teams with the Coen brothers after being absent from their last film “Burn After Reading” and does a masterful job getting great shots of Minneapolis suburban life. While the Coen Brothers stay on top of their game with a great written screenplay and a meticulous attention to detail as always.

For those of you who loved “The Big Lebowski”, “Fargo” and “Burn After Reading”, don’t expect the same kind of comedy from “A Serious Man”. It’s your more traditional black comedy and more serious in its approach, pun intended. 🙂 ( sorry)

I for one loved this movie and cared deeply for the main character Larry and caught myself cheering him on to turn his life around.

This is definitely in the top 5 of my favorite movies from 2009, go out and rent this!