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A Serious Man

Updated on February 11, 2010

Come On Now. Let's Get Serious.

Take a deep breath and step back; everything will be fine. Now, that we're all calm...why so serious? Oh I just couldn't resist saying that with a title like "A Serious Man." The movie is essentially a dark comedy about a Jewish college professor, Larry Gopnick (Michael Struhlbarg), whom runs into a bit of bad luck in his life. First from one of his students trying to bribe him to get a good grade in school; to his wife wanting a divorce and throwing him out of the house. To make matters even worse for our protagonist, he gets into a car accident and then finds out he has to pay for his wife's lover, Sy Abelman (Fred Melamed), funeral. Oh and his brother has a bit of a gambling problem to boot. Indeed, "Murphy's Law" of everything that can go wrong, will go wrong, really does a number on Larry in this film.

Although the movie does tend to have a few unnecessary scenes that add little to the film, like the beginning when a Rabbi turns out to be a fake and gets stabbed in the chest for it. Then there's the ending that brings very little closure to the protagonist's journey, as it just shows him as a man whom tries the best he can in life, but continues to face loads of hardships.

However, that's not to say that this film royally stinks by any means. Far from it. In fact, this is probably one of the most unique and funniest dark comedies, I've seen. The Coen brothers do what they do best of course. Which is create an elaborate story that will not only compel audiences, but it'll leave people laughing as well. In their recent series of dark comedies, aptly dubbed "series of idiots", this film proves to live up to that concept rather well. As each character is portrayed as somewhat of a moron, to say the least, and then you have Larry, whom is the everyman that's forced to take it.  Larry whom is thrown out of his own house, and forced to live in a sleazy hotel with his brother.   Needless to say, this creates an ample amount of comedy as the viewer won't be able to stop laughing at some of Larry's downfalls, like when the Rabbi can't see him because he's busy......thinking!  Or the scene, when the Asian kid tries to bribe him, to get a good grade, but conveniently tries to sue Larry, when he refuses to accept such a proposal.  It's comical moments like these that make the film truly enjoyable.

"A Serious Man" may not have as deep story content as other dark comedies like "Last Supper", "Burn After Reading", "Bad Santa" and many others, but it'll certainly make anyone laugh.  Featuring a great comedy story line that will not only make you feel for Larry's plight, but it'll also generate a few laughs along the way.  Overall, despite it's shortcomings, "A Serious Man" is definitely a decent dark comedy for anyone to see.   


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    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      8 years ago

      Lol. That's cool, bonny2010. thanks for stopping by. lol.

    • bonny2010 profile image

      bonetta hartig 

      8 years ago from outback queensland

      Good review -I like these type of movies, but then itdoesn't have to be good for me to watch it - as I usually fall asleep- yeap even in the bestof them

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      8 years ago

      Lol. thanks lorie. I think your giving me more credit than I deserve, but thanks for saying that though.

      Anyway, to answer your question about "Harold & Maude", I have seen it. In fact, I bought the DVD a while back when I was in high school. You see, I took a film class in high school, because I thought it was going to be a coaster class, and the teacher used to make us watch a lot of old movies, which "Harold and Maude" was one of them. I liked it so much, I just went out and bought the DVD once I saved up enough money.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      I didn't realize that you are the movie reviewer par excellence, monsieur! This I've gotta see, if only because I adore black humour.

      Ever seen Harold and Maude? I believe I've seen it over 20 times. Obsessed!

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      8 years ago

      Hmmm..i guess i need to work on my grammar then. lol Thanks for the advice mega. I appreciate that. I guess since you actually lived through the 60's, then that would create a different perspective of this film altogether. As I always said, it's different to learn about a time period by reading about it, versus actually living through it.

    • mega1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Yep, its dark alright! I also wrote about this movie and its interesting this the first time we've written about the same one! But since you were probably not born yet in the 60's and that was my heyday, we had very different things to say about it! It was mainly a nostalgia thing for me and very very funny because of that. But Steven, one small constructive criticism of your writing and then I will shut up - when you use the words "whom" and "who" you often get them in the wrong context - its like this: the guy WHO writes this review is a good friend to WHOM I offer this little piece of grammatic advice!

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      8 years ago

      hmmm...that's very intriguing there. I didn't know the beginning was served to be a Yiddish anecdote, to lay as foreshadowing for the rest of the movie. I'm glad you pointed that out to me, as I never would've guessed if you hadn't told me. Very good point. Thanks. :)

    • Izzy Anne profile image

      Izzy Anne 

      8 years ago

      The Yiddish anecdote at the beginning is integral to the film since it is a narrative demonstration of the quantum physics discussed in the film. The paradox that to find out if someone is alive or dead one has to kill the person, is repeated throughout the film, especially in the story of the academic blackmail.

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      8 years ago

      Your welcome paradise. anytime. thanks for stopping by again, as its always a pleasure having you here. :)

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      I don't think I'd like this film; lotsa times the dark comedy bit just makes me feel sorry for the guy and kinda depressed afterwards. Good review, though, thank you.


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