Focus Features | Release Date: October 2, 2009
6.7
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 266 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
164
Mixed:
48
Negative:
54
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6
LeeDFeb 12, 2010
Seriously what are they trying to prove with this movie? yeah theyre great filmmakers and this has great qualities but it feels like the coen bros. are trying to see how many things they can deal with in one movie without solving a single Seriously what are they trying to prove with this movie? yeah theyre great filmmakers and this has great qualities but it feels like the coen bros. are trying to see how many things they can deal with in one movie without solving a single thing and how many people will still like it. Dont we deserve some kind of closure in a movie?Its almost like this movie was meant to. Expand
2 of 2 users found this helpful
4
X.Jan 6, 2010
Since it's the Coen bros., it's not a total waste of time, but close. A series of unfortunate events reign down on the protagonist and it's all about as much fun to watch as it is for the main character to go through. (Very Since it's the Coen bros., it's not a total waste of time, but close. A series of unfortunate events reign down on the protagonist and it's all about as much fun to watch as it is for the main character to go through. (Very little.) There's no reason to like or care about anyone on screen. While supposedly a few elements are "funny," they're not funny in a way that you actually derive any joy out of them. I'm fine with uncomfortable comedies and bleak material, but I had no idea why I was watching any of this. The point of the movie seems to be that there is no sense to anything, which seems like a tired theme I've seen done better elsewhere. Only about three scenes piqued my interest, and wouldn't you know it? Those scenes turned out to be dream sequences. (Aren't the Coen bros. a little beyond resorting to "gotcha" dream sequences?) Most infuriating of all, though, is the ending. My jaw literally dropped when the movie ended - I could not believe I had sat through that entire movie, only to be pulled out of it when it seemed something interesting and relevant was going to happen. They could've hardly thought of a more random or frustrating ending (which might have worked and actually have been really cool if what came beforehand held more interest or weight). This was a Serious Disappointment. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful
5
NormGOct 9, 2009
Not as funny as I thought it was going be. The humor was there but on slow boil. No big laugh out loud moments as there were in the much dismissed (by others) Burn After Reading. I have a distain for using a nightmare sequence to interject Not as funny as I thought it was going be. The humor was there but on slow boil. No big laugh out loud moments as there were in the much dismissed (by others) Burn After Reading. I have a distain for using a nightmare sequence to interject some illogical humor. There at least three such scenes here. A mostly unknown cast (except for maybe Richard Kind and Adam Arkin) and the mostly unknown stage actor, Michael Stuhlbarg, has to carry the film. He wore on me. As his character Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
4
DVFeb 16, 2010
Had its moments, but there was no conclusion (did the Coens run out of money at the end?).
0 of 1 users found this helpful
4
judypMar 9, 2010
OY SUCH A MOVIE! The Coens gave us something to think about, however what I was thinking about was my last root canal how much more I enjoyed that experience than , A Serious Man.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
4
NickiROct 10, 2009
Gone is the magic of the Coens. Save your money and enjoy Millers C, Lebowski, Barton F and/or Blood S instead.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
5
AlanKNov 5, 2009
Just thought I'd cast another well-deserved mediocre rating for this movie. As another viewer mentioned, maybe because I'm a goy, but most of this movie had little to no emotional impact on me. As such, I can't argue Just thought I'd cast another well-deserved mediocre rating for this movie. As another viewer mentioned, maybe because I'm a goy, but most of this movie had little to no emotional impact on me. As such, I can't argue positively or negatively on it's behalf. It's one of those films that self-consciously weird in an understated, annoying way. At their prime the Cohens were joyfully and emphatically peculiar in remarkably clever and entertaining ways (most notably Fargo, but also Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, and most of their earlier work). With this film they're just too smug and subtle for their own good... or ours. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
5
ThomasL.Jan 11, 2010
I didn't get it. It wasn't funny. Well shot, great art direction, and though I didn't mind the ending as much as some (if a doctor calls you and asks you to come in, it's very bad news). I just didn't get what was I didn't get it. It wasn't funny. Well shot, great art direction, and though I didn't mind the ending as much as some (if a doctor calls you and asks you to come in, it's very bad news). I just didn't get what was funny in this. It should have been played as a drama, there are good moments but overall a failure. And I was really looking forward to it. Expand
0 of 2 users found this helpful
5
CatherineJan 24, 2010
Although the film has a few laugh out loud moments, taken in total the thing is so joyless and bleak it's hard to recommend. I also think it's a serious public relations nightmare for Jews, who come off as weak, cowardly, whiny, Although the film has a few laugh out loud moments, taken in total the thing is so joyless and bleak it's hard to recommend. I also think it's a serious public relations nightmare for Jews, who come off as weak, cowardly, whiny, self-involved, territorial, and yet deeply elitist ("What happened to the goy?" "Who cares?"). Expand
0 of 2 users found this helpful
5
ChrisDNov 1, 2009
What is the point really? Not sure I could quite figure that out. But that's me.
0 of 1 users found this helpful
5
JamesLOct 27, 2009
I think the Coen brothers have gotten lazy. They were on to something with this film but decided to take the easy way out and leave the topic barely scratched. If they had dug a little deeper, taken a few more risks and been willing to I think the Coen brothers have gotten lazy. They were on to something with this film but decided to take the easy way out and leave the topic barely scratched. If they had dug a little deeper, taken a few more risks and been willing to possibly offend some religious people, then this film could have soared. Insted it barely caused a ripple on the big pond of life and cinema. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful
4
seancriswellMar 23, 2013
Larry Gopnik is having a good old fashioned mid-life crisis. He is a physics professor, and it is safe to say his job is not all he wants it to be. His students seem disinterested and the one that is engaged is trying to bribe him for grades.Larry Gopnik is having a good old fashioned mid-life crisis. He is a physics professor, and it is safe to say his job is not all he wants it to be. His students seem disinterested and the one that is engaged is trying to bribe him for grades. His teenage children are self involved, imagine that, so he is getting little fulfillment on that front. His wife wants a get, a divorce to us non-jews, and to top that off he had no idea anything was wrong plus she wants to marry his friend. All this seems like drama ripe for entertainment in the hands of the Coens. In my opinion there is little entertainment to be had.

Where I think A Serious Man goes wrong is in it's character development. Besides our protagonist every other character in this film is severely under developed. In fact next to Larry I would say the next most developed character is Clive Park. He is the before mentioned student that tries to bribe Larry for a grade. The two scenes that Larry and Clive have together are the best in the film. This is unfortunate because they are very short, and Clive's situation amounts to little more than a plot device to be used later on in the story arc. Larry's whole family is ripe for drama and terribly underused, but the most egregious example of this his brother Arthur, played by Richard Kind. I was excited to see Kind in this film, however like most of the characters he is in little of the film and we don't get to know him. He has one crucial moment towards the end of the film, but of course nothing much comes of it and we are left wondering what he had to do with anything at all.

What A Serious Man does right, is let us get to know the character of Larry. He is a very quiet unassuming man, yet those around him treat him as if he is the source of all their discomfort and misery. Larry never loses his cool in any of his personal interactions but simply always looks bewildered at whatever situation he is being confronted with. We are waiting for him to explode with emotion, but he never does. There are a couple of times when yet another character has told him to calm down that I wanted to explode for him. Larry is a really good character, unfortunately there is just not enough going on with the characters around him to truly engage us the way we need to be.

I love the Coens, I love almost every film they have done. One of the things that I like best about their films is the characters they create. Even their most seldom used characters always feel like part of the world they are creating. They have nuance, they give us reason to laugh with them, cheer them on, or root against them. That is why this effort is so disappointing to me. A Serious Man is practically unrecognizable as a Coen brother film.
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6
SpangleJul 13, 2016
Big fan of the Coen Brothers, but I was just not feeling this one. It simply felt too off for me. Their humor is quirky, but it usually works for me and far too many jokes fell flat. The deadpan comedy worked for the most part, but just notBig fan of the Coen Brothers, but I was just not feeling this one. It simply felt too off for me. Their humor is quirky, but it usually works for me and far too many jokes fell flat. The deadpan comedy worked for the most part, but just not enough. Plus, this one was just constantly feeling like a film I would appreciate more if I were Jewish. It felt like I was constantly on the outside looking in and everybody behind the cameras kept dying of laughter and I had no idea why they kept laughing. A Serious Man, as a drama, works very well and is a very interesting take on the expectations of life, being in a downward spiral, and on the book of Job. From a religious aspect, it is very sound and an interesting take on what is expected of believers, especially when things do not work out. Sadly, it feels too distant and almost incomplete (though all their films do....to varying effectiveness) to be truly effective. A Serious Man had high expectations from me, but it fell short. Expand
0 of 1 users found this helpful01
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5
DianaK.Oct 2, 2009
Life is hell and then you die. Job in a Jewish Minneapolis suburb. The ([professional) audience with whom I saw this well-made but willfully nihilistic movie sat in stunned silence when it "ended." Then they slunk out of the theater and went Life is hell and then you die. Job in a Jewish Minneapolis suburb. The ([professional) audience with whom I saw this well-made but willfully nihilistic movie sat in stunned silence when it "ended." Then they slunk out of the theater and went in search of strong spirits. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
4
DWillyOct 11, 2009
Not bad enough to ruin the Coen Brothers reputation with me, but another sad step further in the egocentric, over-broad, nothing-means-anything direction of "Burn After Reading." It would be slow anyway, without any real plot, but on top of Not bad enough to ruin the Coen Brothers reputation with me, but another sad step further in the egocentric, over-broad, nothing-means-anything direction of "Burn After Reading." It would be slow anyway, without any real plot, but on top of that the characters were inconsistent in their behavior; so it was I became disengaged, and started wondering if such a blanket portrayal of jews as ineffectual and confused in their values was amusing to the Coens, or if it in some way feels good for some Jews to show themselves this way in order to appear harmless to a larger population that might be otherwise inclined to persecute them. In any case, there's no mistaking this movie is deeply anti-semetic... also, just sloppy and not that good. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
5
JonesBOct 15, 2009
Root canal surgery was less painful to endure. It would probably be viewed as anti-Semitic to judge the main adult characters as confused sheep who would be easily led to the abattoir, but I found myself daydreaming of the joyous potential Root canal surgery was less painful to endure. It would probably be viewed as anti-Semitic to judge the main adult characters as confused sheep who would be easily led to the abattoir, but I found myself daydreaming of the joyous potential of a car crash taking out our protaganist, Larry, or better still... his wailing shrew of a wife. A serious man, he asks? How about a serious schmuck. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
4
MikeDOct 27, 2009
A serious comedy or a comedic drama? Either way it failed miserably. The characters were caricatures without any substance. A very disappointing movie.
0 of 0 users found this helpful