Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: A Serious Man

Grade: A-

Larry Gopnik is a physics professor at a small mid-western university in 1967. Everything seems to be going as normal for Larry and his family, who live in the suburbs of a small mid-west town, until one day Larry's wife comes to him and informs him that they have been having problems and that she wants a divorce and a "get" (a Jewish ritual/document that finalizes a divorce allowing the wife to marry again in the faith). From there his life just seems to fall apart more and more. He is forced to move into a motel room with his brother because his wife does not feel it appropriate that they live in the house. Everyone around him seems to be dying, his kids don't appreciate or respect him at all and he is essentially being blackmailed at work. In order to find some answers he turns to his faith, which only seems to be giving him more questions.

This movie was great and I can understand how it was recently nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. I will admit that I didn't get as much out of it as I could as I am not Jewish and do not fully understand their culture. For instance the intro to the movie seems to have nothing really to do with the rest of the movie and they were constantly using Hebrew/Yiddish words that I didn't understand, thankfully though the Blu-ray of this movie has a special feature that tells you what those words mean. The rest of the movie however was great. The humor, while dark, was rather funny. The Coen brothers did a wonderful job with this movie, as they always do. It looked spectacular and really looked like some suburbs would have in 1967. Even though they cast mostly unknowns, the acting was great and really kept the movie going. I really enjoyed the main story/plot line of uncertainty and questioning of faith. It is stuff that I feel most people can relate to, even if you're not religious, like myself. They following may contain spoilers but I'm not sure: I fully enjoyed the ending of the movie as I feel that it was perfect considering the subject matter of the movie, I can understand, however, how some people might be displeased with it.

Michael Stuhlbarg, who played the main role of Larry Gopnik, I have never seen act in anything but I understand that he has won a Tony award. He was amazing and really made this role. This is one of those times where I believe it actually helped the movie by casting an unknown, he did such a great job. Richard Kind, who played Larry's brother, Arthur, did an amazing job with this role. I have always kind of liked Richard Kind and found him funny but his performance in this movie was magnificent, I've never seen him do anything like it. The movie also features performances by Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolf, Jessica McManus, Adam Arkin, and Simon Helberg.

This movie is definitely worth watching and is available to rent or buy on DVD and Blu-ray. I strongly recommend watching it, especially if you are a fan of the Coen brothers movies, which I am. It is a very intriguing and insightful dark comedy.

Great quote: "That's right, things aren't so bad. Look at the parking lot, Larry. Just look at that parking lot."

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