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'A Serious Man' Movie Review: The Meaning of Life

Updated on October 22, 2019
Dean Howard profile image

Dean is a new online writer. He usually writes movie and music reviews.

'A Serious Man'


'A Serious Man' follows a Jewish physics professor, Larry Gopnik, as his life begins to unravel and he is questioned with the meaning of his life. It all begins when his wife wants a divorce because she has fallen in love with another man. Then Larry is bribed by a student to give him a passing grade. His wife's lover dies in a car accident and he is forced to pay for the funeral. His brother, Arthur, is living with him. Everything bad that could happen to Larry does happen. He tried throughout the movie to understand why these bad things are happening to him.

The plot of the movie is why a lot of people hate this movie. It strings events that have no answer. Actually, by the end of the movie, here are more questions than answers. The general public does not like this. They want a movie with a straight forward narrative with resolutions.

However, I enjoyed this film very much. It is very confusing and does have a whole lot of questions with no answers, but it works. The Cohen brothers are notorious for their storytelling. This film is no exception.

The main theme of this film is understanding life. Just like the film, there are no answers to life. With Larry's talks with the three different Rabbis, we get an understanding of what this film is trying to get across. Life is what you make it. It could be good or bad based on your perspective. I loved that idea because life can be tough to get through, but it can be worth living if you have a good outlook.


The best aspect of this movie is the characters. The Cohen brothers have some of my favorite characters of all time. Their movie characters are so quirky that they are enjoyable to watch. This film has the characters getting into whacky situations and create a fun viewing. The reason this works is that the film has an amazing screenplay. The dialogue fits with the quirky feel of the characters.

Michael Stuhlbarg, who portrays Larry, is incredible. He plays the character with innocence. A man just trying to figure out what is going on in his life. We feel for him. We see that these bad things are happening to him, but Stuhlbarg plays the character with the right amount of quirk that he is a ball of fun to watch.

I also really enjoyed Richard Kind and Fred Melamed who plays Arthur, Larry's brother, and Sly Ableman, Larry's wife's lover, respectively. These two actors are also the trademark of the Cohen brothers, that being extremely goofy. All of the characters and actors are great in this film. Definitely the highlight of the film.

The Cohen Brothers:

What makes the Cohen brothers os great is that they have their own craft. As mentioned, a trademark to them is their storytelling and quirky characters. This film is the definition of a Cohen brother's movie. If you are a fan of their work, this movie will not disappoint.

I have great respect for filmmakers are willing to walk out on a branch in order to create their work. You could watch this film without knowing who directed it and be able to say ti is the Cohen brothers. Too many directors do the same stuff that they do not stand out. So, I give so much credit to the Cohen brothers for continuing to create their unique movies. Love them or hate them, they have their own spin on storytelling.

'A Serious Man': Movie Trailer

Final Thoughts:

If you have a Netflix account, I would recommend watching this film if you enjoy the work fo the Cohen brothers. This film continues the unique twists that are a trademark with the Cohen brothers. It will leave you with a big question mark dangling above your head, but the characters will create a good funny film that is worth a watch.

Do not expect this movie to give you the answer to life either. Just like the real answers to life, this film gives you nothing to go off of. You have to read in between the lines to figure out how you want to interpret this film. Just like life, there are no answers... Just perception.

4 stars for 'A Serious Man'

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