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79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

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6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 252 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: A Serious Man is 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 leavingA Serious Man is 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. 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? (Focus Features) Collapse
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 35
  2. Negative: 3 out of 35
  1. 100
    That song (Jefferson Airplane's Somebody to Love), which becomes a sort of mantra to the movie, is the key to understanding what the Coens are after: When the truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies, you better find somebody to love.
  2. A tart, brilliantly acted fable of life’s little cosmic difficulties, a Coen brothers comedy with a darker philosophical outlook than “No Country for Old Men” but with a script rich in verbal wit.
  3. 100
    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.
  4. 88
    The presence of so many low-key performers gives A Serious Man a very different, distinctly non-Hollywood vibe. The absence of familiar faces allows the Coens to fully immerse their audience in the time (1967) and place (the U.S. Midwest) of the story.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    80
    To absorb God's body blows, this disquieting, haunting movie says, is to be fully alive. To do otherwise could kill you.
  6. A seriously black comedy. Black, because affliction and angst abound. Comic, because this rampant bleakness is presented as nothing more than an amusing bauble.
  7. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    30
    As usual, though, the Coens have more venal satisfactions in mind. "The fun of the story for us," they crow in the notes for this loathsome movie, "was inventing new ways to torture Larry."

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 55 out of 102
  2. Negative: 32 out of 102
  1. MarkH
    Oct 17, 2009
    10
    Ranks with the best of the Coen films. A philosophical farce that is even funnier when you flashback the next day. And even though much of Ranks with the best of the Coen films. A philosophical farce that is even funnier when you flashback the next day. And even though much of the humor is Jewish based it is also universal. Expand
  2. KenS
    Nov 15, 2009
    10
    For some reason, it bothers me that all the reviews say 1967 when the movie is set in 1970 or 71.
  3. ArthurF
    Mar 29, 2010
    10
    A movie with humor and pathos, funny lines and ultimately no conclusion. That's life. There are no definitive answers. The film has a A movie with humor and pathos, funny lines and ultimately no conclusion. That's life. There are no definitive answers. The film has a bleak side, which predominates - there are no answers - and a hilarious side, with some good laughs. Expand
  4. May 15, 2012
    7
    It's hard to characterise this film; very black comedy covers it i guess. There are some amusing scenes, a nice touch of the absurd, butIt's hard to characterise this film; very black comedy covers it i guess. There are some amusing scenes, a nice touch of the absurd, but overall I found it just a bit too bleak Expand
  5. X.
    Jan 6, 2010
    4
    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 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
  6. ChaseW
    Mar 20, 2010
    3
    Decent acting, but overall story lacking in big ways...namely an ending.
  7. ReidF
    Oct 10, 2009
    0
    Snide, obnoxious, vapid people doing awful things to each other, this movie is total garbage.

See all 102 User Reviews

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