Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a teacher whose wife is planning to leave him, who has two children who barely notice him, whose brother has been living on the couch for quite some time and who has a student attempting to bribe him for a passing grade. He doesn’t seem to have any emotional response to any of this. The main response he gets from any of his friends and colleagues is to ask if he has consulted a rabbi. He visits various rabbis getting confusing responses.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Coens for so long that it is so disappointing to come across one of their films that doesn’t totally work for me. I loved the pacing and the feel of the film – really reminded me of early work like Barton Fink. Perhaps it was just there were some parts that I reckon I didn’t get as much because I don’t know all of the ins and outs of the Jewish religion – or how it would be to be a middle class Jew in the suburbs of America in the sixties. I just accepted that some stuff was important even if I didn’t know why. Still, every time that I felt I wasn’t enjoy the film, a scene came along that gave me the Coen brothers love back.
A Serious Man was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Writing, Original Screenplay.