A Serious Man–Movie Review

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3 Stars
Wow! Ethan and Joel Coen must have been in a really dark mood when the made A Serious Man. It is a very, very dark comedy, essentially a retelling of the Book of Job, with no sugar-coating.

Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is the Job character, a physics professor at a small Midwestern college in the late 1960s. He’s an ineffectual nebbish who tries earnestly to do the right thing, though he isn’t sure what that is. The people around him tend to push him around and take advantage of him, while Fate deals him one nasty blow after another. (I use the term “nebbish” advisedly. The story is set in a mostly-Jewish community and has a strong Jewish sensibility.)

The move is painfully funny. I found myself laughing quite a lot, and when I wasn’t laughing I was wincing. You can choose to see this as a bitterly comic commentary on the human condition. If you can’t see it that way, it will probably be like watching a kitten being tortured. Not for every taste, in other words, and you need to be in the right mood to enjoy it.